DOH sees further drop in NCR COVID-19 cases

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
DOH sees further drop in NCR COVID-19 cases
“In the National Capital Region we will just have about 1,126 cases by November,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at Saturday’s Laging Handa briefing.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Coronavirus cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) are seen to drop even further by November, based on projections provided to the Department of Health (DOH).

“In the National Capital Region we will just have about 1,126 cases by November,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at Saturday’s Laging Handa briefing.

Vergeire noted that this figure could drop even further with higher vaccination coverage.

But infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante cautioned the public against complacency amid the decline in COVID-19 cases.

“Let’s look at our health facilities. Although, we see a significant drop (in COVID-19 cases), the ICU (utilization rate) remains high at 75 percent,” Solante said in a radio interview.

Saying these numbers should not make the public complacent, he stressed that the country has yet to achieve herd immunity.

For its part, the DOH gave assurance that the government is exerting efforts to prevent another surge in Metro Manila by ramping up vaccination in neighboring regions of the NCR, particularly Regions 3 (Central Luzon) and 4-A (Calabarzon or Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon).

“We’re continuing our focus on areas outside of the NCR; and hopefully, they can also catch up,” Vergeire said in reference to the higher vaccination rate in Metro Manila.

She also noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the next surge of COVID-19 in the country would likely happen outside the NCR.

“We want to prevent this possible surge, especially outside of Metro Manila, because their (hospital bed) capacity is not as great as in the NCR. So, vaccination is really the key to stop any rise in cases here in the NCR and outside the capital region,” Vergeire said.

At present, COVID-19 cases and the hospital care utilization rate (HCUR) in Calabarzon remain high so the alert classification in the region has not been lowered, she said.

She added that as of Oct. 15, the DOH still lists the NCR and Calabarzon as the top two regions with active and new COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, a member of OCTA Research said it is possible for the Philippines to have only between 5,000 and 6,000 daily COVID-19 cases by the end of October.

In an interview with dzMM radio yesterday, Math professor Guido David pointed out the country’s seven-day average of 8,400 cases and its current reproduction rate of 0.64.

In Metro Manila, the reproduction rate is at 0.58, David bared, and the seven-day average is at 1,681.

“So the number of cases are now declining as well as the reproduction rate. By the end of October, (the daily cases) could come down to 5,000 to 6,000 cases,” David said in Filipino. “That is what we want, to see that the cases really are lowering.”

David also underscored the decline in the hospital utilization rate, but noted that the number of patients in intensive care unit wards is still high.

This could be due to the more-transmissible Delta variant, he said.

In a separate radio interview with dzBB, the professor said that while they backed the downgrading of Metro Manila to Alert Level 3, the OCTA group did not expect the big number of people observed in public places yesterday.

Families and droves of people were seen in various public places at the start of the less-stringent alert level, which is expected to last until the end of the month. – Ralph Edwin Villanueva


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