Experts warn of coronavirus surge as infections spike nationwide

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2020 04:57 PM | Updated as of Nov 26 2020 10:24 AM

People visit the seaside area of a mall in Pasay City, Nov. 21, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Philippines may see a gradual rise of COVID-19 cases, a group of analysts warned Wednesday, as virus infections climbed in many parts of the country.

In its latest report, the OCTA Research team said Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Western Visayas reported an increase of new coronavirus cases in the past several days.

From Nov. 18 to 24, NCR recorded the highest number of new daily cases with 373, followed by Calabarzon (338), Central Luzon (185) and Western Visayas (110). Davao Region reported 114 new daily cases for the same period, but it was 23-percent drop from its previous week’s 147 cases.

While it was not clear if the increase could be attributed to the opening of economy, the effects of recent typhoons or lax compliance of minimum health standards due to pandemic fatigue, the group said it may lead to a surge in COVID-19 infections if the trend continues.

“While this may be a cause for concern, it should not be a cause for alarm or panic. The situation in the country is still manageable,” the OCTA team said.

“However, the data reinforces the view that the current positive trends in the Philippines and in the NCR are tenuous and can easily be reversed if the government, the private sector, and the public become less vigilant and complacent in the fight against COVID-19.”

Due to the uptick in new cases, the group marked the following local government units (LGUs) as high-risk: Makati City in National Capital Region; Baguio City, Lucena, Batangas City, Capas in Luzon; Davao City and Pagadian in Mindanao.

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“We urge the LGUs concerned to further intensify their efforts at testing, tracing and isolation to reverse the increase in transmissions in their communities,” the group said.

High-risk areas are those with high daily cases, high positivity rate, high attack rate or high hospital occupancy due to COVID-19.

As the holiday season nears, the OCTA team - composed of professors from the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas and Providence College in the United States – also warned of mixing households, which could drive the increase of COVID-19 cases.

“We encourage the government and LGUs to enforce the current GCQ (general community quarantine) limit of 10 persons per gathering in the NCR and to discourage office parties and other social events, especially as we approach the Christmas season,” the group said.

“Family gatherings should be limited in size and should be celebrated outside to mitigate transmission.”

The OCTA team also called on the national government to increase the capacity of the national health care system; increase testing; scale up contact tracing efforts; and improve the capabilities of LGUs to implement community health programs as it further opens the economy.

As of Nov. 25, the Philippines recorded 422,915 coronavirus infections, of which 8,215 fatalities were linked to the disease. Some 386,955 patients have recovered from COVID-19 while 26,745 are still sick with the virus.

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