The daily average COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) has increased by 19 percent during the past seven days, but the region remains at “low risk,” the independent monitoring OCTA Research Group said Friday.
In its latest report, OCTA said cases during the May 13 to 19 period went up to 71 from 59 recorded during the May 6 to 12 period.
The NCR is among the areas currently under Alert Level 1, the least restrictive among COVID-19 alert levels.
The NCR’s reproduction number, which refers to the number of people who can be infected by one case, also increased to 0.90, which is considered “moderate,” up from 0.76, which is considered low, OCTA said.
A reproduction number that is below 1 indicates that the transmission of the virus is slow.
The positivity rate—referring to the ratio of people testing positive over the total number of tests conducted—remained at 1.2 percent over an average of 11,476 tests per day, while hospital care utilization rate remained at 22 percent in the NCR.
The one-week average daily attack rate (ADAR) increased from 0.42 to 0.50 “but remained very low (less than 1),” OCTA said.
“Overall, NCR remained at low risk,” OCTA said.
On May 9, the Philippines conducted its national and local elections amid fears that crowding of people going to voting precincts could lead to another surge in COVID-19 cases.
The government recently announced that it has detected 17 cases of Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1, two of them in the NCR. The subvariant is said to be 27 percent more transmissible than BA.2, the dominant Omicron subvariant in the Philippines and the rest of the world.
On Thursday, the Department of Health (DOH) said a fresh COVID-19 surge is possible if a new immune-escaping variant of the coronavirus enters the country and the immunity of the vaccinated people wanes.
The government has been advising citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying the country has enough vaccine supply.
The government recently rolled out a second booster shot for health care workers and senior citizens to give them more protection against the virus.
The DOH started giving second booster doses to immunocompromised adults in April.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday it might be too early to determine if the reported increase in coronavirus infections would cause a significant impact on the public health and security status in the NCR.
Duque, in an interview with radio dzBB, said the DOH should monitor the country’s two-week growth and average daily attack rate per hundred thousand population first to determine if there’s a need to put NCR into a higher alert level.
Duque appealed to the public to get their booster shots and those under the A1 and A2 priority groups to get their second booster shots.
As of May 20, the Philippines has administered a total of 148,929,189 coronavirus vaccines. Of these, 68,912,256 people completed their doses while 66,246,467 are awaiting their second shot. A total of 13,770, 466, meanwhile, have received their booster doses.
The Philippine General Hospital said Friday that they have yet to see an increase in COVID-19 admissions following the detection of the highly transmissible omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant.
The Philippines’ largest COVID-19 referral center currently has 25 patients with coronavirus infection.
“We don’t see a surge or increase in admission,” said PGH spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario, in an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
“Although there are patients with COVID-19, we don’t see an increase in admissions due to the subvariant,” he said.
Of the 25 COVID-19 patients admitted at PGH, three are critical, one is severe while others are recuperating in COVID-19 wards, he said.
Del Rosario said that most of the patients were unvaccinated.
To date, the country has logged more than 3.68 million COVID-19 infections, of which, 2,139 are active cases, data from the Health Department showed.
An infectious disease expert has earlier warned that COVID-19 cases in areas with low vaccination rate may rise due to the Omicron subvariant.
Meanwhile, the head of the incident management team in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, said the 11 foreign tourists who contracted the BA.2.12.1 subvariant have already recovered and returned to their home countries.
Dr. Dean Palanca said the tourists had left the Philippines in the first week of May.
The patients only experienced mild symptoms of the disease, Palanca said, and all of their close contacts have tested negative for COVID-19.
The Philippines on Thursday reported some 195 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the nationwide tally to 3,688,295.
The country’s active case count further decreased to 2,139, based on the data posted on the DOH’s website.
This is so far the lowest number of active COVID-19 infections this year, the DOH reported.
A total of 3,625,704 people have been counted as recoveries, while the death toll remained at 60,452.
The regions with the most cases in the past two weeks were the National Capital Region with 915 infections, Region 4-A with 278, and Region 3 with 248.
The DOH said at least 22,677 people were tested, while 319 testing labs submitted data on May 18.
The DOH reported that the bed occupancy in the country was 16.9 percent, with 5,271 beds occupied, while 25,900 vacant.