OCTA: 4.3 pct COVID positivity rate in Philippines 'a milestone' but...


Posted at Nov 11 2021 01:28 PM

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MANILA – The 4.3 percent COVID-19 positivity rate in the Philippines is a milestone, OCTA Research group said Thursday, but warned that vaccination must still increase in parts of the country. 

“It is a milestone, Mike, and it’s actually even better because in the (National Capital Region), the positivity rate has dropped to 3 percent. And although the World Health Organization uses 5 percent as the benchmark, for the (US Center for Disease Control and Prevention) they actually recommend a 3 percent positivity rate,” Prof. Guido David told ANC’s “Rundown.”

“So, how did we get here? We’re doing more testing now than last year,” David said.

The Philippines on Wednesday recorded a positivity rate of 4.3 percent, the first time since January 31 this year that it went below 5 percent, and the lowest since December 14, 2020.

The professor noted that positivity rate is low in major metropolitan areas Metro Manila and Cebu City because there are a lot of testing centers in these areas.

Vaccination, meanwhile, is playing a key role in keeping the number of COVID-19 cases down, he said.

“Now the vaccination rate is helping with controlling the number of cases, so yes I agree there’s a factor wherein the vaccination rate plays a role in the positivity rate,” he said.

David noted, however, that more people need to get vaccinated if government wants to place Metro Manila under a looser quarantine status.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said NCR may be placed under Alert Level 1 if fresh COVID cases go below 1,000 per day.

“There’s another factor that I would like to consider and that is the level of vaccination in other regions around NCR. Because the NCR has high level of, high rate of vaccination. But we also have to look at the vaccination rates in Central Luzon and Calabarzon because we can think of this as one whole region, NCR Plus with Calabarzon and Central Luzon,” he said.

“So even though we have high level of vaccination, in NCR, if we have low level of vaccination in Calabarzon and Central Luzon, that could affect the numbers because we’re now moving down to very low alert level which requires at least 70 percent vaccination, but we might not have that 70 percent vaccination in Calabarzon and Central Luzon so there could be some kind of concern there,” he explained.

He also said that vaccination must be increased in other areas of the country.

“During the surge we recommended prioritizing the NCR because the NCR’s the one that’s most affected by surges--well not just the NCR but NCR+8, that includes Cebu, Davao, and Calabarzon, parts of Central Luzon.”

“But now that we’re past the surge, we definitely should be vaccinating more people outside the NCR, and we have the supplies right now,” David said.

“I mean it’s not like in the past wherein we were needing supplies, but I think part of the challenge is the logistics, the part about deploying these vaccines to these provinces,” he said.

“And as we have seen, in our own own survey, level of vaccine hesitancy in the provinces is still high. I mean, not as high as before but it’s still significant, especially in rural areas in Visayas and Mindanao.”

“So definitely we need to be vaccinating more people and we need to have a more active education drive to convince people especially in the provinces to get themselves vaccinated,” he added.

Despite the low positivity rate in the country, David maintained that the public should be still cautious and follow minimum public health standards when going out.

“We’re still not out of the woods. We still have to be careful and when going out, we still have to practice the minimum public health standards so that we can maintain these trends.”

“Otherwise there could be, we’re not saying there will be a reversal but if we’re not careful it can happen… I mean it did happen in some other countries wherein they were not mindful of minimum public health standards and cases spiked again,” he said.

--ANC, 11 November 2021