MANILA (UPDATE) - There may already be community transmission of the COVID-19 Delta variant in Metro Manila based on the increasing percentage of such cases detected in the country through genome sequencing, the OCTA Research said Sunday.
There might be 300 new cases of Delta variant per day in the capital region, based on the percentage of its cases out of the country's total infections, said Professor Guido David.
"We understand ang Department of Health, sila ang official body, kino-confirm nila ito through genome sequencing. We’re an independent group, (and) we can say based on statistics, based on sampling, yung nakita nating Delta variant cases, tumataas na sa 25 percent. Dati, nasa 15 percent," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(We understand that the Department of Health is the official body and they're confirming this through genome sequencing... We’re an independent group, we can say based on statistics, based on sampling, that the Delta variant cases we've seen have increased to 25 percent from 15 percent.)
"Kung 300 cases per day, masasabi natin talagang merong community transmission. In the interest of safety, kahit wala pang confirmation na community transmission, it’s better to assume na merong community transmission para magdoble ingat tayo."
(If we have 300 cases per day, we can say there's community transmission. In the interest of safety, even if there's no confirmation yet, it’s better to assume there's already community transmission so we'll be extra careful.)
As of Wednesday last week, a total of 216 Delta variant cases (first detected in India) have been detected in the country, out of 9,725 samples that went through genome sequencing. Only 16 are active, eight have died, and the remaining 192 have recovered.
Of the latest batch of 97 additional Delta variant cases that were confirmed, 25 were in Metro Manila. The 97 include three fatalities and 94 recoveries.
The Beta variant (first detected in South Africa) has the most number of cases at 2,146, of which, 19 are active, followed by the Alpha variant (first detected in the UK) at 1,856, including 18 active cases.
In a report issued Sunday, the OCTA said 1,740 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Saturday in Metro Manila, "the highest number since May 10" when the region was still under modified ECQ.
The 7-day average increased to 1,279, up by 40 percent from the previous week, it said.
"The rapid growth rate suggests the possibility of community transmission of the Delta variant in the NCR," the OCTA report read, adding that the reproduction number in the NCR increased to 1.52 from 1.29 the previous week.
The group warned that if there are no changes in the quarantine restrictions in the region, hospital beds would reach 70 percent occupancy in less than five weeks, while ICU beds will be 70 percent utilized in less than three weeks.
"There were 530 more hospital beds occupied compared to the previous week (occupancy went up from 38 percent to 45 percent), while ICU occupancy increased from 45 percent to 52 percent," it said of the latest situation.
According to the group, 13 of the 17 localities in the NCR are now considered "high risk" areas.
The threat of the Delta variant is the last remaining "hurdle" for the country this year, David said in the TeleRadyo interview.
"Ito na ang last major hurdle natin sa taon. 'Pag malusutan natin ito, madami na ang nabakunahan sa Metro Manila, we're going to have a booming 4 months... We will have a Merry Christmas," he said.
(This is our last major hurdle this year. If we get through this and many are vaccinated in Metro Manila, we're going to have a booming 4 months... We will have a Merry Christmas.)
The OCTA Research projects Metro Manila will reach 2,000 daily cases by August 10 but infections are already accelerating at 1,700, David said.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week announced that the capital region will be placed under strict lockdown or enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20 to arrest the spread of the highly transmissible variant.
"'Yung 2 weeks, possible na ma-extend siya ng 3 weeks kung mataas pa ang cases. Possible din na 2 weeks lang talaga kung mapababa natin ang cases. It will also depend kung ano ang case count natin ng August 5, just before ng ECQ," David said.
(It's possible the 2 weeks can be extended to 3 weeks if cases still rise. It's also possible that we're on lockdown for just 2 weeks if the cases decline. It will also depend on our case count on August 5, just before the ECQ.)
The country on Saturday recorded 8,147 more COVID-19 cases, the second straight day that additional infections counted more than 8,000 and the first time it happened in 3 months.
Total recorded cases climbed to 1,588,965 cases, of which 60,887, or 3.8 percent are active.