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Low cases noted as alert system hailed a ‘success’

The National Capital Region’s COVID-19 reproduction number continues to improve, the latest report from the independent OCTA Research Group said, as Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos hailed the pilot implementation of the new quarantine alert system as a “successful experiment.”

Low cases noted as alert system hailed a ‘success’
SURFACE DISINFECTION. Barangay officials disinfect an area under granular lockdown at New Orleans St., Brgy. Pinagkaisahan in Quezon City. On Monday, the Philippine National Police said some 140 areas in 72 barangays in Metro Manila have been placed under granular lockdown. Of the total, some 42 areas in 35 barangays are in Quezon City.
Manny Palmero
“It’s been a successful experiment on its own. It’s a successful pilot because the people are disciplined, there is still economic activity, and we’ve seen that the numbers are really going down,” Abalos said.

“Right now, I would say the numbers are very promising in terms of reproduction rate and active cases,” he added.

NCR has been placed under Alert Level 4, under which select businesses have been allowed to resume operations at a limited capacity.

OCTA fellow Guido David on Wednesday reported that the National Capital Region’s (NCR) reproduction number decreased to 1.03 for the period covering Sept. 15 to 21.

The reproduction number refers to the number of people that each case can infect.

The one-week growth rate, meanwhile, declined 18 percent, David said on Twitter.

“The decrease in new cases in NCR continues. The seven-day average in new cases is 4,784..., with a one-week growth rate of -18 percent,” David said.

At a forum on Tuesday, David said the Philippines could possibly be in the last stages of its battle against the Delta coronavirus variant, especially in Metro Manila, amid the decrease in the reproduction number.

David said the recent number of cases in Metro Manila and nearby regions has started to decline, indicating that actual cases are falling in line with the downtrend predicted this month.

On Tuesday, David said the recent number of cases in Metro Manila and nearby regions has started to decline, indicating that actual cases are falling in line with the downtrend his group predicted this month.

“We are seeing good news in Metro Manila. We’re happy to share this with everyone because as we noted, protecting the fourth quarter is very important and I think, with the downtrend, we are starting to see this is now becoming a reality,” he said.

David said the reproduction number for the National Capital Region has decreased to 1.1, and the growth rate in the region has remained below zero in the past few days.

“I think we’re at the… what we might call the end game of the Delta variant because it’s already starting to decrease,” he said, comparing the Philippine figures on the coronavirus with those recorded in India and Indonesia.

Abalos said about 90 percent of the eligible population in the NCR would be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December.

Abalos said Metro Manila has already administered a total of 15,077,557 vaccine doses as of Sept. 19.

Of the number, 8,498, 639 or 86.72 percent of the eligible population for their first dose while 6,578,918 or 67.13 percent were fully inoculated against the deadly virus.

“By Oct. 20, 80 percent (of the target population) will be fully vaccinated,” Abalos said.

Authorities are looking into allowing gyms to operate under Alert Level 4, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

“There really is a big possibility for gyms to be considered for inclusion among industries allowed to operate in Level 4 like dine-in and personal care services,” Lopez said in a television interview.

The Philippines logged 15,592 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections to 2,417,419.

Testing output on Sept. 20 was only 53,349 compared to the 73,904 average daily testing output for the last seven days.

There were 154 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 37,228.

The DOH also reported 24,059 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,217,611.

There were 162,580 active cases, of which 92 percent were mild, 3 percent were asymptomatic, 0.7 percent were critical, 1.5 percent were severe, and 2.81 percent were moderate.

The positivity rate was 24.9 percent, based on the test results of 53,349 individuals screened for the disease on Monday.

Nationwide, 78 percent of the ICU beds, 67 percent of the isolation beds, 72 percent of the ward beds, and 57 percent of the ventilators, were in use.

In Metro Manila, 77 percent of the ICU beds, 62 percent of the isolation beds, 71 percent of the ward beds, and 63 percent of the ventilators, were in use.

Also on Wednesday, the DOH reported a decrease in the 2021 case fatality rate (CFR) among COVID-19 cases, despite a three-fold increase in the number of cases, comparing 2021 and 2020.

In a statement, the DOH said their data showed that the CFR of the country in 2021 was at 1.47 percent compared to 2.47 percent in 2020.

On the other hand, the DOH recorded a total case count of 472,205 at the end of 2020 versus a total of 1,929,711 from Jan. 1 to Sept.21, 2021, which accounts to a 309 percent increase in cases in 2021 compared to 2020.

Among all the regions, the NCR which had the highest number of cases in 2021 had the lowest CFR at less than 1 percent.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there were many reasons for the lower case fatality rate, one of which was the overall improvement in the country’s health care system.

The vaccination program also played a role in the decrease, she said.

“Vaccines continue to provide the promised protection against more severe COVID-19 and deaths. Moreover, this was the effect of the strategies and behavioral-change campaigns implemented as early as August 2020 to mitigate the risk of transmission and slow down the spread of COVID-19,” Vergeire said.

The DOH added that the CFR among senior citizens in 2021 was two times lower compared to 2020.

The DOH said that the national government together with the local government units must continue to increase coverage among the A2 priority group to protect them from the severe form of COVID-19, leading to hospitalization and even deaths.

Meanwhile, data from the Philippine National Police showed at least 135 areas in Metro Manila were placed under a granular lockdown as of Tuesday.

These areas were reported in 53 barangays of nine cities and municipalities, where 247 PNP personnel and 452 force multipliers were deployed.

At least 80 of these areas are streets, 47 were houses, six were villages or subdivisions, and two were residential building floors.

Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez, who heads the Metro Manila Council, said the presence of one COVID-19 case will be enough to impose a lockdown on a house or a condominium floor.

To impose a lockdown on an entire street, he said there should be at least two COVID-19 cases.

Topics: National Capital Region , COVID-19 , OCTA Research Group , Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
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