New coronavirus cases in Metro Manila decreasing: OCTA group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2020 04:50 AM

People walk beside the road amid the community quarantine in Quezon City on October 15, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The number of new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila is decreasing continually as a whole, a group of academics monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines said, as the country continues to register lower additional infections daily.

In its report released early Tuesday morning, the OCTA Research Group noted that the new reproduction number of transmission rate of the COVID-19 disease in the capital region is fell to 0.70 percent, unlike at the onset of the outbreak when it was around 2 or 3. 

If the reproduction number is less than 1, the disease won’t spread anymore, according to experts.

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The group also said Metro Manila's positivity rate, or the ratio of people testing positive of COVID-19, fell to 6 percent from 8 percent.

But researchers raised the alarm on the cities of Pasig, Makati, Pasay, Mandaluyong, Marikina and Valenzuela due to their high case load and high attack rate, or the percentage of the population affected by the disease per day.

According to the OCTA group, Makati, Mandaluyong and Muntinlupa are also above the 70 percent critical level in hospital occupancy. The researchers stressed attention is needed in those cities, especially Makati and Mandaluyong.

In Calabarzon, the positivity rate is at 11 percent. The high risk areas in the region include Calamba, Lucena, Santo Tomas, Taytay, Cainta, General Trias and Batangas City.

The analysts emphasized Lucena and Batangas City are above the 70 percent critical level in hospital occupancy and that attention is needed in those areas.

"The local government units (LGU) concerned need to further intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation to reverse the increase of transmissions at the community level," the OCTA group said.

For the rest of Luzon, areas with high caseload and high attack rate are Baguio City, Olongapo (Zambales), Ilagan (Isabela). According to the group, the positivity rate in Cagayan Valley is 10 percent, followed by Benguet with 8 percent, and Central Luzon which has 7 percent.

Ilocos Region has 1 percent positivity rate.

The analysts expressed concern for Baguio City which is above the 70 percent critical level in hospital occupancy and called for serious action in the area.

In Visayas, the group noted Iloilo City remains a high-risk area, and near the critical level in hospital occupancy, and needs serious coronavirus response.

The positivity rate meanwhile in Eastern Visayas is at 10 percent, while Panay (including Iloilo) and Negros Occidental are at 7 percent. Cebu is at 3 percent.

In Mindanao, Butuan (Agusan Del Norte) is a high-risk area. The Agusan provinces registered an alarming 32 percent positivity rate, while Cotabato City and Zamboanga are at 17 percent, followed by South Cotabato with 16 percent.

The Misamis provinces meanwhile has 13 percent positivity rate and Davao region with 8 percent.

The group noted Davao City is also above the critical level in hospital occupancy, while Zamboanga Del Sur and Butuan are close in reaching it.

Analysts called for serious response in Butuan due to high transmissions at the community level.

The OCTA Research Group -- composed of professors from the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, and Providence College in the United States -- urged local government units (LGU) throughout the Philippines to further intensify their response to the coronavirus.

They also called for "more aggressive and effective localized lockdowns with stricter border controls" to arrest local transmissions.

"To this end, we reiterate the need for the national and the local governments to strictly monitor and enforce compliance with minimum health standards such as physical distancing, the wearing of face mask and face shields and proper hygiene to reverse the
increase in transmissions at the community level," the group said.

As of Monday, the Philippines's COVID infections stand at 359,169, of which 42,191 are still active cases.

The Philippines is among the top 20 countries with the most number of COVID-19 patients in the world, despite imposing one of the strictest and longest lockdowns.

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