MANILA - Coronavirus cases in the Philippines may reach up to 500,000 by the end of December, a group of experts warned Monday, as infections show no signs of slowing down nearly a year into the pandemic.
In its latest report, the OCTA Research Team said the number of new daily cases in country had slightly increased in November, but with the holidays right around the corner, the nationwide tally could spike.
The group - composed of professors from the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas and Providence College in the United States - project a lower estimate of 470,000 and upper estimate of 500,000 with a mean of 485,000 coronavirus cases for December 31.
The increase of new cases around the country, the OCTA Research Team noted, was because of community transmission after the government further opened up the economy. They also noticed a "deteriorating compliance" with minimum health standards as the public became weary after months of restrictions.
The OCTA Research Team said Metro Manila, Davao Region, and Western Visayas had reported increase in new daily cases.
The group also reported increase in daily cases in Quezon Province, Bulacan, Misamis Oriental and Western Samar. Meanwhile, it praised the improvement of COVID-19 response in Baguio City and Cebu City that led its cases to drop.
"To this end, we recommend to the national government consider sustaining the current quarantine classification for the NCR until the end of December," the group said, "and to also consider reclassification to a stricter quarantine status [in] certain area around the country that continue to have significant outbreaks with hospitals already at full capacity."
The OCTA Research Team also called on the public to refrain from joining social gatherings during the yuletide season.
"We also appeal to our citizens to avoid not just crowded and enclosed areas but also to refrain from joining or organizing social gatherings this Christmas season," the group said.
"There is evidence from Europe and North America that increased social mixing among households is driving the second wave of COVID-19 in these parts of the world."
The Philippines has so far tallied 429,864 coronavirus infections, with 8,373 fatalities. Some 22,867 patients are still sick with the virus.
It still has the second most number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, trailing Indonesia with over 534,000, and among the top 30 countries worldwide with COVID-19 infections.