OCTA: COVID-19 cases declining, but Metro Manila still high-risk

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
OCTA: COVID-19 cases declining, but Metro Manila still high-risk
Commuters prepare their face shields as they board an EDSA carousel bus at the Monumento station in Quezon City on Sept. 23, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — While the daily number of new COVID-19 cases is going down, OCTA Research said Metro Manila remains under a high-risk level of infection.

In a report yesterday, the independent research group monitoring the pandemic in the country said five localities in the National Capital Region (NCR) are now at moderate risk.

Twelve, however, are still at high risk based on new COVID-19 cases per day, growth rates, average daily attack rate, and hospital and intensive care unit bed utilization.

“The seven-day average of new cases in the NCR was 4,220 with a one-week growth rate of 20 percent and a reproduction number of 0.94,” OCTA said.

“The positivity rate in the NCR over the past seven days was 19 percent, which is considered high. Using COVID Act Now guidelines, NCR remained at high risk,” the latest report added.

OCTA Research said the localities of Navotas, Malabon, Manila, Valenzuela and Pateros are now under moderate risk category while the rest of Metro Manila’s local government units remain at high risk.

Research group experts noted that the risk levels calculated are based on COVID Act Now guidelines in the United States and may not reflect the alert level rating being used by the Department of Health.

The government is presently eyeing to ramp up its daily vaccination rate once the surge of cases subsides, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said yesterday.

NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said while daily vaccination rates this month were ranging from 400,000 to 500,000, the government would be refocusing on the vaccination drive once COVID-19 inpatients start to decrease.

“Our daily average is decreasing because our (pool of) healthcare workers was halved. The majority of healthcare workers were reassigned to (hospitals) and we can see that our vaccination was sacrificed because it’s for more priority… to save the lives of our people who are now in hospitals,” he said during a vaccine delivery rite at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Ramping up the daily average was crucial, Galvez said, because once the number of inoculated people under priority groups has increased and the country’s vaccine supply “saturates,” the NTF would be discussing with the Inter-Agency Task Force the possibility of starting to vaccinate the pediatric and adolescent population.

As of yesterday, the NTF said the government has fully vaccinated over 20.2 million Filipinos, representing about only 18 percent of the total population of the Philippines.

“Hopefully, before the month ends, we can reach 30 percent of our target population,” Galvez added.

Meanwhile, three million government-procured Sinovac vaccine doses arrived at NAIA Sunday afternoon, which Galvez said would be distributed to Ilocos, Cagayan Valley Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western and Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and a portion for second dose shots in Metro Manila.

An additional 2.5 million Sinovac doses are also expected this week.

So far, the country has received 17 million doses this month.

Galvez said before the end of October, the government was expecting the total vaccine deliveries to be at 100 million. The Philippines has received 69.7 million doses since February.

DOH disputes claims COVID unreal

The Department of Health has disputed claims by a certain group that coronavirus disease is not real and that the vaccines lead to death.

“It is not true that vaccination kills. Vaccines against COVID-19 have been given EUAs (emergency use authorization) by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective,” the DOH said on social media.

DOH noted that the World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic and claimed the lives of over 4.6 million people worldwide.

A video claiming that COVID is not true and a number of those who received the vaccines against the infection died has been circulating on social media.

Members of the group Gising Maharlika last week staged a protest action at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila without observing physical distancing and most of them not wearing face masks.

The group asked the government to stop killing the people by implementing the mandatory vaccination program.

Members of the group insisted that COVID-19 is not real.

“Vaccination is voluntary and free,” the DOH said while adding that an informed consent is also required before a person gets the first shot. – Neil Jayson Servallos, Mayen Jaymalin, Rudy Santos

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