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OCTA: COVID Cases May Have Peaked In NCR; DOH Disagrees

OCTA: COVID Cases May Have Peaked In NCR; DOH Disagrees
A resident of a compound on Mabilis Street in Baragay Pinyahan, Quezon City that was placed under special concern lockdown receives food aid from authorities on Sept. 15, 2021. The area has been placed on lockdown since Sept. 10, 2021 due to rising COVID-19 cases. Photo by Michael Varcas, The Philippine STAR

The latest surge experienced in Metro Manila may have peaked, although additional data in the next few days are needed to confirm this, according to a member of the OCTA Research group.

The Department of Health (DOH), however, called OCTA’s projection “premature,” noting that the number of cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) continues to rise.

With 23,134 new cases recorded on Saturday, Sept. 18, – the second highest daily increase in cases since the pandemic started – OCTA fellow Guido David said the average daily new cases recorded in the entire country in the past seven days was at 20,218, down 2% from the 20,705 daily new cases in the preceding week.

David also noted that the seven-day average number of new COVID-19 cases across the country has decreased for the first time since July.

A continuing decline in the number of new cases must be recorded before a decreasing trend is established.

According to David, the overall reproduction number in the country – which indicates the number of persons a positive individual can infect – also dropped to 1.16, close to the ideal of less than 1.0.

In Metro Manila, the average number of daily new cases from Sept. 11 to 17 was at 5,825, up 8% from 5,410 from the preceding week.

Despite the increase, the reproduction number in the region still dropped from 1.39 to 1.22, David said.

“Early indications (show) that the surge may have already peaked in the NCR, but efforts must be sustained to ensure the trend continues downward,” he added.

“Due to backlog, expect that there will be days when cases could still spike… Cases may increase again if care is not taken,” David warned.

David said they would know if the region has indeed peaked within the coming week. He said they use the positivity rate, the seven-day average in new cases and the reproduction number to make the analysis of the surge reaching its peak.

Too early to tell

According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, it is still premature to assume that cases in NCR have already peaked.

“Right now if you look at our data… we see here in NCR that cases are still increasing. We have an 8% increase in cases in NCR from the previous seven days,” she said at a public briefing.

Vergeire noted that last week, a single-day increase of almost 8,000 cases was documented in NCR.

After this, she recalled the daily tally went down to 5,000 to 5,500 cases per day but they saw around 5,800 cases in recent days.

“It would go up and down, and up and down again. At this point in our analysis, we could not yet see the peak of our cases. We are closely studying this,” she added.

The 23,134 new cases of COVID-19 has brought the total number of infected to 2,347,550. There are 184,088 active cases, representing 7.8% of the overall cases.

Data showed 255 patients have succumbed to the virus, bringing the death toll to 36,533. A total of 27,024 cases have recovered, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,126,879.

‘Serious increase’in new cases recorded in 3 provinces

Three of the top 20 provinces with the highest number of new COVID-19 cases have recorded a “serious increase” in their daily average in the past week, David said.

While eight provinces in the list have reported a lower average of new COVID-19 cases, David said a serious increase have been observed in Negros Occidental, Isabela and South Cotabato.

From Sept. 11 to 17, Isabela recorded an average of 357 new cases per day, up 37% from the preceding week.

Negros Occidental had an average of 345 new cases in the past week (up 75%), while South Cotabato recorded 335 daily new cases (up 32%).

Other provinces that had positive growth rates were Rizal with 863 (up 9%), Batangas with 734 (up 6%), Iloilo with 576 (up 24%) and Pampanga with 535 (up 19%) and Pangasinan with 507 (up 4%).

Also reporting increases were Benguet with 369 (up 23%), Nueva Ecija with 266 (up 22%) and Quezon (up 9%).

Drop in cases

Meanwhile, David said the average new daily cases in eight provinces have decreased in the past seven days.

These include Cavite with 1,518 (down 4%), Laguna with 1,041 (down 5%), Bulacan with 796 (down 10%) and Davao del Sur (down 12%).

Average daily new cases also dropped in Cagayan with 422 (down 20%), Cebu with 351 (down 38%), Bukidnon with 257 (down 20%) and Bataan with 242 (down 20%).

Only the provinces with the highest number of average new cases were included in the list.