MANILA (UPDATE) - The COVID-19 positivity rate in Metro Manila is declining steadily as the Philippines' daily coronavirus cases also continue to decrease, a group of analysts said early Wednesday, presenting a brighter outlook for the country.
The OCTA Research Group said in a report that the ratio of people testing positive of COVID-19 in Metro Manila is trending at the right direction at 6 percent, and is close to the World Health Organization's recommended target of 5 percent to effectively curb the virus spread.
Even after the Philippine Red Cross resumed its coronavirus testing services, following a debt feud with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), daily infections are dropping in the country especially in the capital region, the analysts noted.
The average number of new cases per day for the whole Philippines went down to around 1,800 while the new average in Metro Manila is at 490, a significant improvement from August when it was at 2,500, the OCTA group said.
The Philippines recorded 1,772 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 387,161.
The health department noted that this is the 21st straight day that the country's daily tally is less than 3,000, although it does not include data from 18 accredited testing laboratories that failed to submit results on time.
However, the OCTA group — composed of professors from the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, and Providence College in the United States — warned that the positive downward trend in the Philippines and Metro Manila can "easily be reversed" if the government, private sector, and the public become complacent with the virus and begin to ignore anti-coronavirus policies.
"To this end, we urge the national and the local governments to strictly monitor and enforce compliance with minimum health standards such as physical distancing, the wearing of face masks and face shields and proper hygiene to reverse the increase in transmissions at the community level," the group said.
They urged the local governments units (LGUs) in areas with high-risk of coronavirus transmission to intensify testing, contact tracing and isolation efforts to arrest the spread of the disease in their jurisdictions.
"In the identified high-risk LGUs, the implementation of more aggressive and effective localized lockdowns with stricter border controls is urgently needed to suppress further viral transmissions," the analysts said.
The health department earlier said it was hopeful that the entire country would be able to shift to more lenient quarantine protocols by the first quarter of next year should LGUs sufficiently follow anti-coronavirus policies and programs.
Malacañang said the public has "by and large... been compliant with minimum health standards."
“I think people know by now what to do to prevent the further spread of the disease and they have been cooperating," Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines.
"Our slogan right now is Ingat Buhay Para sa Hanapbuhay, and I think people know that they need to observe minimum health standards so that they can go back to work and earn their livelihood."
According to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus dashboard, almost 47 million people have been infected by COVID-19 globally since it first emerged in China. Of those, more than 1.2 million have died, and more than 31.3 million have recovered.