Philippines back to 'moderate risk' COVID-19 classification

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Philippines back to 'moderate risk' COVID-19 classification
Marikina residents are seen inside the public market of the city on July 28, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s risk classification for COVID-19 is back to “moderate risk” following an increase in cases, the Department of Health said Thursday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the growth rate of cases rose to 1% over the last two weeks from -10% growth rate last week.

Meanwhile, the average daily attack rate—or the number of cases in an area over a two-week period divided by the population there—was 4.95 cases per 100,000 population.

The average daily cases in the Philippines jumped to 6,029 per day from July 22 to 28. In the previous week, the average was 5,576.

“We are now seeing an increase in cases this mid-July,” Vergeire said.

But the utilization rates of hospital and ICU beds remained in “safe zone” at 48.96% and 58.64%, respectively.

Early in July, the DOH classified the Philippines at “low risk” from COVID-19 after declining infections. This prompted Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization country representative, to say it was not yet appropriate to call the country low-risk as new, more infectious COVID-19 variants crop up.

Case trend in ‘NCR Plus’

“After a slow decline in the past weeks, case trend in ‘NCR Plus’ areas are now showing continuous increase in number of cases,” Vergeire said.

Eleven cities in the capital region have positive two week-growth rates. Metro Manila showed a 19% increase in its two-week growth rate.

“This should be a cause for concern as NCR has been at negative two-week growth rate for weeks before the current week,” the DOH official said.

The department on Tuesday said there is “no definitive evidence” yet that Metro Manila is seeing a surge in infections. The statement was issued after the OCTA Research said that a surge in the region has begun, citing an increase in reproduction rate to 1.33 from 0.6.

It also called for a “circuit breaker” lockdown. But the government continued to place Metro Manila under General Community Quarantine “with heightened restrictions” until August 15.

Trend in other areas

Vergeire said a rise in cases was seen in Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, while a decline in cases was observed in Mimaropa and Bicol region.

The case trend in Cordillera Administrative Region and Calabarzon was plateauing.

In the Visayas, there was a “steep rise” in cases in Central Visayas, while infections were slowly declining in Western and Eastern Visayas.

In the southern Philippines, cases were increasing in Northern Mindanao. The case trend in Soccksargen was plateauing, while the remaining regions in Mindanao exhibited a decrease in infections.

Health authorities have so far reported 1.56 million COVID-19 cases. Of the total, 3.6% are currently sick.

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