The independent OCTA Research Group said Wednesday it expects COVID-19 cases to decline to about 5,000 to 6,000 a day by December, and the Alert Level 4 in Metro Manila to drop down to Alert Level 2 or 1.
OCTA Research fellow Guido David said this was likely because surges are already ending in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Cebu, and other major metropolitan areas.
He also said that the granular lockdowns and alert level system being implemented in the NCR are effective, but vaccination is also a major factor why cases will decline by December.
Metro Manila is under Alert Level 4, which includes targeted lockdowns in areas with a cluster of infections. The 5-tier alert system is being piloted in Metro Manila until Sept. 30.
"We are not saying this is sudden but we saw that the number of cases was declining. Actually, we peaked last Sept.11 and after that, the number of cases in Metro Manila was decreasing," David said.
Though some provinces may still see an increase in cases, the overall numbers should be lower by December, he said.
Another good sign, he said, was that the COVID-19 reproduction number, which refers to the number of people that a carrier can infect, has dropped from 0.98 to 0.96 nationwide. In Metro Manila, it was 0.94.
A reproduction number that is below 1 indicates that the transmission of the virus is slowing down.
In a post on Twitter, David said new cases in the Philippines averaged 17,293 from Sept. 22 to 28, with a growth rate of -11 percent.
"The downward trend is more defined now," David said, but added that "hospitals remain at high capacity in many of the affected areas."
On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) said the Philippines has returned to a moderate-risk classification due to the declining number of COVID-19 cases.
The country had been under high-risk classification for more than a month previously.
Nine regions remained high-risk areas for COVID-19, namely Cordillera Administrative Region, Regions 1, 2, 4B, 5, 6, 9, 12, and Caraga.
Meanwhile, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro called on the Department of Health (DOH) to be consistent in its data regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They're saying there's a downward trend that's happening but they're also saying that those tested and contract traced are decreasing,” he said in Filipino.
“Second, what's surprising is our cases in Metro Manila are falling but our bed utilization and ICU utilization are increasing,” he said.
Data from DOH as of Sept. 26 showed that 6,645 out of 10,706 beds in Metro Manila were occupied.
Of the 159 facilities in the capital, some 79 were considered at safe level (less than 60 percent occupied), 16 at moderate (60 to 70 percent occupied), 25 at high risk (70 to 85 percent occupied) and 36 were tagged as critical (more than 85 percent occupied.)
The Philippines logged 12,805 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday,
bringing the total number of infections to 2,535,732.
“The relatively low cases today is due to lower laboratory output last Monday, Sept. 27. Testing output last Sept. 27 was only 51,377 compared to the 70,134 average daily testing output for the last seven days,” the DOH reported in its Case Bulletin No. 564.
There were 190 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 38,164.
The DOH also reported 12,236 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,365,229.
There were 132,339 active cases, of which 76.7 percent were mild, 16.4 percent were asymptomatic, 0.9 percent were critical, 2.1 percent were severe, and 3.91 percent were moderate.
Nationwide, 74 percent of the ICU beds, 63 percent of the isolation beds, 67 percent of the ward beds, and 53 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 75 percent of the ICU beds, 53 percent of the isolation beds, 64 percent of the ward beds, and 56 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
The department has been revising its figures after it failed to release data on deaths for three days because of a system problem.
An additional 339 cases of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus were detected, making the nationwide tally 3,366, the DOH said on Wednesday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, during an online briefing, said the new Delta cases were detected from 748 sequenced samples, which included those taken from April to June.
The Delta variant is now the most common lineage among sequenced samples of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, according to the DOH.
Also on Wednesday, data released by the Philippine National Police showed that the number of areas in the NCR under granular lockdown dropped to 235 on Tuesday, down from 281.
The PNP said these areas were reported in 129 barangays in Metro Manila.
These areas include 143 houses, 77 residential buildings, nine streets, and five subdivisions.