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Transmission of cases rising steadily, OCTA Group warns

Metro Manila could possibly have as much as 2,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by next week, independent researchers tracking the pandemic said Friday.

“What we’re seeing right now is possibly 2,000 cases per day in the NCR by next week and this would be worrisome,”said Guido David of the OCTA Research Group.

OCTA has led calls for a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown to arrest the spread of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

Currently, the National Capital Region (NCR) is averaging almost 1,100 new cases per day.

OCTA said the reproduction rate of the virus in Metro Manila has climbed to 1.35, indicating sustained COVID-19 transmission.

“If we get to the 2,000, it would be  close to our surge capacities, meaning our contact tracing would start to break down Transmission or become less efficient and our testing would be strained,” David warned.

David pointed out that in August 2020, the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) — the second-strictest lockdown classification — was imposed when Metro Manila was only logging around 1,800 new cases daily.

“Our MECQ lasted only two weeks, and then after that, we were fine. So it worked,” he said.

“Last March, we had a lockdown but we were at almost 5,000 cases when we had the lockdown so we waited too late to pull the trigger and that lockdown lasted seven weeks,” David added.

The Philippines logged 8,562 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infections to 1,580,824.

One hundred forty-five new fatalities brought the COVID-19 death toll to 27,722.

The DOH reported 2,854 persons who recently recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 1,491,182.

There were 61,920 active cases reported, the highest since May 8.

Of the active cases, 94 percent were mild, 1.2 percent were asymptomatic, 1.2 percent were critical, 2.1 percent were severe, and 1.49 percent were moderate.

Nationwide, 59 percent of the ICU beds, 50 percent of the isolation beds, 47 percent of the ward beds, and 38 percent of the ventilators, were in use.

In Metro Manila, 52 percent of the ICU beds, 44 percent of the isolation beds, 41 percent of the ward beds, and 37 percent of the ventilators, were in use.

The Department of Health (DOH) said Friday that six of the eight Delta variant fatalities were local cases.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Delta variant deaths were recorded in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte (one fatality); Balanga, Bataan (one fatality); Pandan, Antique (one fatality); Cordova, Cebu (two fatalities); and Pandacan, Manila (one fatality).

The two other deaths were returning overseas Filipinos, she said.

Vergeire said the fatalities were aged 27 to 78 years. Five of them were male.

Three have been confirmed to be unvaccinated against COVID-19, while five others are still undergoing verification.

Vergeire said authorities are still studying if community transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant—which means links among cases can no longer be identified-- has begun. She said, however, that there was a need to act as if this kind of transmission was already happening.

The Philippines has so far reported 216 Delta variant cases.

The government on Friday announced that it is placing Metro Manila under enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20 to curb the spread of the new variant.

The Department of Health (DOH) is currently monitoring four areas in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) due to an increase in COVID-19 infections.

Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, assistant regional director of DOH-CAR, said Apayao province had been identified as "high risk" for the spread of coronavirus.(See full story online at manilastandard.net)

The DOH on Thursday classified CAR the lone high-risk region for COVID-19 in the Philippines.

The provinces of Abra and Kalinga, and Baguio City are currently at "moderate risk" for COVID-19, she added.

The DOH classification is based on an area's average daily attack rate (ADAR) and two-week growth rate.

From July 15 to 28, Apayao has recorded 344 COVID-19 cases, an increase of 138 from 206 cases it logged from July 1 to 14, figures from DOH show.

COVID-19 cases in Baguio City decreased to 630 in the past two weeks but its ADAR was at 12 percent. It had 792 coronavirus cases from July 1 to 14.

Health officials in Central Visayas on Thursday confirmed 32 cases of the highly contagious Delta variant were detected in Cebu province.

Nineteen came from Lapu-Lapu City, six were in Cebu City, three were in Mandaue City, two were in Samboan town, and two were in the island town of Cordova.

“It really validated our suspicion that with the increased number and fast transmission in the past three weeks, we have with us the Delta variant,” said Department of Health-Region 7 director Dr. Jaime Bernadas.

Bernadas said his office is looking into the high number of variants as a result of local transmission based on initial investigation, but they are still backtracking and doing intensive contact tracing.

“Don’t worry, the variants will really come. As a virus, they really mutate. What is important is that the vaccines still work,” Bernadas said.

Bernadas said logged cases have been already tagged as recovered, and some are still on their way to finishing their quarantine.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, mayors and health officials agreed to activate all local health units to become first responders for suspected COVID cases before bringing them to the big hospitals in the tri-cities.

The medical society earlier said it is “full to the brim” with both COVID and non-COVID patients waiting to be taken to a ward or private room at hospitals.

DOH-7 has also deployed 66 nurses to different private hospitals in Cebu to aid in the virus response.

Mayors of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue have not taken back their appeal to the IATF to retain their quarantine classification. They are supposed to be on modified enhanced community quarantine by Aug. 1.

On the other hand, the Archdiocese of Cebu has also joined in the move to curb the increasing number of cases. Holy Masses in Cebu city are suspended until the end of August.

Novenas and fiestas are also prohibited. Only 10 family members are allowed in a funeral.

As of Wednesday, there were 9,233 active cases in Central Visayas based on DOH data.

The highest came from Cebu City with 2,355 cases followed by Cebu province with 2,190.

Lapu-lapu had 1,083 cases and Mandaue had 793.

Topics: COVID-19 , Metro Manila , Virus , Department of Health , OCTA Research Group , Guido David
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