COVID tally hits new daily high of 39k amid confirmed Omicron spread
The growth of new COVID-19 cases has slowed in Metro Manila, even if the region is experiencing a surge of infections due to the community transmission of the Omicron variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the case doubling time in Metro Manila went from 2.2 to 4 days. “This means that the numbers double every 4 days. We see the cases slowing, but we must understand that cases are still going up,” she said.
“The slow growth isn’t the only metric we’re looking at, but how many more cases we’re adding,” she added.
The DOH also reported 39,004 new COVID-19 cases, again the highest single-day tally since the pandemic began, as it confirmed the community transmission of the Omicron variant in the capital.
Saturday’s record surpassed Friday’s cases, when the DOH logged 37,207 infections.
Independent research group OCTA on Saturday dovetailed the DOH findings, as it said based on the 7-day moving average, the growth rate of the coronavirus in the National Capital Region dipped to 3 percent on Friday from 5 percent on Thursday.
OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David said the reproduction number, or R value, in Metro Manila also fell to 3.22 as of Tuesday. The R value measures the average number of people that one infected person passes the disease to, and an R value higher than 1 can lead to exponential growth.
“While the decrease in growth rate is strong evidence that that the trend in NCR appears to be peaking, it is still subject to data backlog and late reports,” David said. “Once the growth rate in NCR becomes negative, new cases in the NCR are decreasing.”
Meanwhile, Vergeire said COVID-19 cases were expected to rise nationwide until the end of the month. Based on the DOH team’s projections, the peak of infections might be reached by the end of January or mid-February.
NCR currently has 149,000 active COVID-19 cases, or over half the number of total active infections in the country (265,509).
The DOH also observed a spike in new cases in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol Region, and Western and Eastern Visayas. Five regions in the country are also in the critical case risk classification: NCR, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Cagayan Valley, and CAR.
“ We can see that cases are going up in other regions. We could see the same characteristics in the NCR when the surge started,” Vergeire said.
But David said the surge in COVID-19 cases could be slowing down in Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan.
“It is still maturing in Laguna, Pampanga, and Benguet. It is accelerating in Batangas and Isabela,” he said.
The OCTA fellow said the surge is still in its early stages in Cebu, Pangasinan, Quezon, Iloilo, Camarines Sur, Davao del Sur, and Negros Occidental, adding that it is “likely to be accelerating soon.”
Meanwhile, the average daily attack rates (ADAR) for some provinces are Cavite (55.71), Rizal (58.27), Bulacan (46.72), Laguna (45.59), Pampanga (25.19), and Benguet (36.18). ADAR pertains to the incidence of the average number of new cases in a period per 100,000 persons.
The country’s total reported cases are now 3,168,379, of which 280,813 patients were active. Eight laboratories failed to submit data on time.
ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido said the number of active infections was a record high for the fourth straight day.
The positivity rate was at 47.1 percent based on samples collected from 78,774 individuals who were screened for COVID-19 on Thursday, data showed. This declined for a second straight day, but Guido noted it was still the 3rd highest positivity rate since data became available.
There were also 23,613 people who recovered from COVID-19 on Saturday, raising the total to 2,834,708. Fatalities also climbed by 43 to 52,858.
In a televised public briefing, Vergeire said local cases of the variant of concern have already been detected in the capital region.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), community transmission happens when connections between local infections could no longer be established through the positive test results of routine sampling.
“We are already seeing the community transmission of the omicron variant here in the NCR. While our genome sequencing cannot catch up, we already have determined that there are local cases already,” Vergeire explained.
“Based on the trend we are seeing, this is really the characteristic of the omicron variant,” she added.
Considering all factors, Vergeire said efficiently managing available resources is the government’s strategy now.