MANILA (UPDATED) - The entire Metro Manila and 9 other regions in the Philippines are currently classified as high risk for COVID-19 amid rising cases, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday, even as the country continues its vaccination program against the disease.
The announcement came more than two weeks since the DOH declared that the entire country was in the same risk classification as the national 2-week growth rate then increased to 47 percent, with an average daily attack rate of 7.20 cases per 100,000 population.
On Aug. 13, the DOH also said that all areas in the National Capital Region are classified as either at high or critical risk for COVID-19.
The Philippines had confirmed the presence of the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant which was first detected in India.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Dr. Alethea De Guzman, director of the DOH's Epidemiology Bureau, said the current COVID-19 risk classification for all 17 localities in Metro Manila stems from the high bed utilization rates or nearly full intensive care units.
Other regions classified as high risk for COVID-19 are as follows:
- - Calabarzon
- - Central Luzon
- - Cagayan
- - Northern Mindanao
- - Cordillera Admiistrative Region
- - Central Visayas
- - Ilocos
- - Davao
- - Western Visayas
The DOH has been determining the COVID-19 risk per area either as low, moderate, high or critical.
The risk classifications are determined based on the health care utilization rate:
- Low: Below 60%
- Moderate: 60% to 69%
- High: 70% to 84%
- Critical: 85% and above
"Posibleng pumalo pa siya pataas habang nira-ramp up natin ang ating contact tracing," De Guzman said of the latest COVID-19 figures.
(The figures may continue to increase as we ramp up our contact tracing.)
"The increase in cases can come from any and all areas here. This is something na nakikita natin in the next few weeks na tumataas pa (that we see rising in the next few weeks)," she said.
The DOH has also observed an increase in the country's COVID-19 death toll, the health official said.
"We're seeing our deaths per day increase. The lowest was last July at 94. Tayo ngayon ay nagre-register ng (We are now registering) 109 deaths per day," De Guzman noted.
"With more cases, yes we will see deaths, but the proportion of deaths to cases is not higher than what we saw before," she said, attributing the feat to the use of vaccine and better management of COVID-patients.
Almost 13.2 million people in the country have so far been fully vaccinated since the rollout started March 1. They account for 17.11 percent of the target population for inoculation.
Authorities have said that while inoculated people may still get COVID-19, the vaccine will prevent severe illness.
Amid the latest COVID-19 figures, De Guzman said, "We don't use the term surge" as "there are different interpretations" of what a surge is.
"There is an increase in cases. We want to be able to quantify the increase... and describe that increase through our risk classification," she said.
The DOH said it expects to see a "slow down" in the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country in "approximately 2 to 3weeks."
The Philippines, as of Wednesday, has recorded a total of 1,883,088 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which, 125,378 are active. Its first confirmed infection was logged in January last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.
Metro Manila, home to around 13.5 million people and which accounts for a third of the country's gross domestic product, was placed under the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on Aug. 6-20, and then to modified ECQ for the period Aug. 21-31 to curb the spread of. COVID-19 amid the detection of the Delta variant.