MANILA - The number of new COVID-19 cases in the country could be higher due to the declining testing rate for the virus, research group OCTA said Friday.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier announced that 13 out of 17 cities in Metro Manila are now under moderate risk for COVID-19. The agency has also noted an increase in COVID hospital admissions in several areas.
"When you look at NCR, Calabarzon, Central Luzon nakikita na tumatas ang kaso natin. Lalo na sa National Capital Region, nakikita natin na yung positivity rate, napakataas po niyan," OCTA Research fellow Dr. Ranjit Rye said in a televised briefing.
"Ibig sabihin bukod sa kumakalat, marami sa mga kababayan ang likely nahawaan and these are conservative numbers kasi nga marami ang hindi nagpapa-test ngayon, mas mababa ang testing ngayon,” he added.
Based on DOH's weekly data, 62,836 people underwent testing for COVID-19 from Sept. 19 to Sept. 25, 9,492 or 15.1 percent of whom tested positive for the disease.
A total of 17,789 individuals, meanwhile, were also screened for the virus on Sept. 28. The DOH has yet to release data for this week.
The research group is urging the public to continue wearing face masks outdoors, even if it is no longer mandatory, as protection against COVID-19 infection.
"Bagamat wala na tayong mask mandate importante sa labas ay mag mask tayo during this period kasi pataas ang kaso natin… Tayo talaga mag-ingat talaga, hindi pwedeng magpabaya, hindi pwedeng magkumpyansa… mag-ingat tayo for the next week or two,” he said.
Rye explained that the continued presence of more infectious COVID-19 variants, increase in mobility, and non-compliance to the public to minimum health standards likely caused the increase in cases in NCR.
"Ang nakikita namin, alam mo kapag tumataas ang cases sa Metro Manila, yung Calabarzon, Central Luzon kailangan nang bantayan yan kasi yan yung pattern, yung NCR plus na sinasabi natin."
But while cases in Metro Manila have increased, southern areas in the country like Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, have registered zero cases of COVID-19, according to its mayor, Samuel Co.
"So far it’s doing good. Right now, bale zero-zero ang active cases natin…
for the past 3 weeks we were able to vaccinate 13,000 especially more on mga students, so maganda,” Co said in the same briefing.
Despite the improvement in the city’s COVID situation, Co says many of their residents continue to adhere to minimum health standards.
“So far dito most of the people are wearing face masks po merong iilan na hindi na nagwe-wear ng face masks pero majority are wearing face masks pa rin,” he said.
The Philippines recorded 2,536 new cases and 34 new deaths on Thursday, raising the total active infections to 28,172.
NCR, meanwhile, posted 1,149 new cases, ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido said.
The positivity rate from September 25 to 28 is at 15.1 percent, Guido said.