The Philippines logged 17,677 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the first time since the first week of January that the daily tally fell below 20,000.
Tuesday’s count brought the total number of cases to 3,459,646, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
The positivity rate was at 37.2 percent, based on 43,874 people tested on Jan. 23.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the classification of Philippines and Metro Manila was downgraded from “critical risk” to “high risk” for COVID-19, as the average daily attack rate (ADAR) remained high.
He added that the two-week growth rate went down to 176 percent, as the ADAR stood at 25.46.
In Metro Manila, Duque said the classification shifted from critical to high risk as the two week growth rate went down from 7,225 percent to 65 percent, but its ADAR was at 85.46 percent.
Duque also said NCR Plus areas are showing case declines while cases in the rest of Luzon areas are plateauing.
Aside from NCR, Mimaropa, BARMM, and SOCCSKSARGEN were classified as high risk.
The independent OCTA Research Group, meanwhile, said the reproduction number in the National Capital Region decreased to 0.91, indicating the downward trend not just in new COVID-19 cases but in active cases as well.
OCTA fellow Guido David said it was the first time the reproduction number fell below 1 since Dec. 23, 2021.
The reproduction number refers to the number of people that can be infected by one case. A reproduction number below 1 indicates that the transmission of the virus is slowing down.
David said that the reproduction number in NCR went up to 6 on January 2.
“While this is good news and confirms a downward trend not just in new cases but also in active cases, we have to continue [to] follow health protocols to prevent a reversal of the trend,” David said.
The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were Region 4-A (Calabarzon) with 2,629 or 15 percent, National Capital Region (Metro Manila) with 2,570 or 15 percent, and Region 3 (Central Luzon) with 2,266 or 13 percent.
There were 79 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 53,598.
The DOH also reported 33,144 new recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,158,597.
There were 247,451 active cases, of which 7,464 were asymptomatic; 235,181 were mild; 2,996 were moderate; 1,502 were severe; and 308 were critical.
Nationwide, 50 percent of ICU beds, 53 percent of isolation beds, 53 percent of ward beds, and 25 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 44 percent of ICU beds, 45 percent of isolation beds, 51 percent of ward beds, and 24 percent of ventilators, were in use.
Duque also reported that the following regions are at critical risk: Bicol Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Western Visayas, Davao Region, Cagayan Valley, Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Ilocos Region, Caraga, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Calabarzon and Central Luzon.
However, Duque reported that case trends in Visayas and Mindanao are increasing.
He asked local government units in the regions to address hospital utilization rates, monitor case hospital metrics, and ramp up vaccinations.
Based on government data, Duque said over 57 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated versus COVID-19, which is 73 percent of the country’s eligible population. Over 6.2 million Filipinos got their booster doses.
The Palace said on Tuesday that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) was set to meet and discuss the possible de-escalation of Metro Manila from Alert Level 3 to the less strict Alert Level 2 following the downward trend in reported COVID-19 cases.
Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the task force would study this and announce its decision before the month ends.
Duque on Monday said the spike in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila may have reached its peak as the number of new cases from the region continues to decrease.
As of January 24, some 262,997 people were recuperating from COVID-19, 72,382 of whom were in Metro Manila.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said Monday night that the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Cagayan Valley topped regions with the greatest number of areas enforcing granular lockdowns, Año, in his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during the Talk to the People briefing, said out of a total of 807 areas under granular lockdown, 242 are in CAR while Cagayan Valley has 212.
These were followed by the National Capital Region with 169; Ilocos Region, 165 and Mimaropa with 19.
“In the entire country, 31 LGUs have so far conducted granular lockdowns. This involves 296 barangays and 807 (areas) are now under granular lockdown,” Año told the President.
He said the measure has so far affected 1,111 households and 2,145 individuals.
He also said LGUs and the Philippine National Police are now intensifying the monitoring of the compliance of health safety protocols in public places.
From Jan. 16 to 21, the number of persons apprehended for non-wearing of face masks rose by 3 percent to 64,645, from 62,833 for the period Jan. 9 to 15.
In the same period, some 590 people were accosted over the conduct of mass gatherings, a 77 percent increase from only 332.
A total of 24,398 people were apprehended for violation of physical distancing rules, an increase of 3.7 percent from 23,528 from January 9 to 15.
Año clarified that only a small number of these violators were charged, while the majority of them were just given a warning.