OCTA says Metro Manila positivity rate decreasing; it could be limited testing capacity

OCTA says Metro Manila positivity rate decreasing; it could be limited testing capacity
Motorists queue for booster shot for COVID-19 during a drive-thru vaccination at Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Jan. 15, 2022.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila's COVID-19 positivity rate — at 54% earlier this month — has dipped to 50% as of January 14 and is still decreasing slowly, the OCTA Research Group said, acknowledging however that this may be an effect of limitations on testing.

The term positivity rate refers to the percentage of tests conducted that came out positive for COVID-19. Though slowly decreasing, a positivity rate of 50% means that one in every two tests will come out positive for COVID-19. 

Under the World Health Organization's benchmark recommendation, governments should seek to lower their positivity rates to just five percent before opening the economy. 

According to the independent pandemic monitor Sunday evening, one of two scenarios are possible: either the National Capital Region's cases have already peaked and are now beginning to decline, or the metro's testing capacity has already hit is limit, resulting in an artificial decrease in numbers. 

"The decrease in positivity rate has been slow but a decrease nonetheless. Limitations in testing is still very possible at this time," OCTA Research fellow Guido David said. 

"While this supports the decreasing reproduction number and growth rate, limitations in testing still cannot be ruled out at this time. It is best to wait and see what the trends in the numbers of cases will be in the next few days.

David also said that the 37,154 fresh cases recorded by the Department of Health on Sunday fell lower than projections and a decrease from Saturday's record-high 39,004 cases.

"This could be a good sign," he said as he observed that recoveries were also "now coming in quantity." 

Of Sunday's new cases, 15,959 or 42.9 percent came from Metro Manila. Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna followed with 3,139, 2,265, and 1,935 cases, respectively. 

Earlier, OCTA said that the growth rate of Metro Manila's seven-day moving average in COVID-19 cases is down to two percent. The term seven-day moving average refers to the average daily number of newly detected COVID-19 cases over a 7-day period.

To date, health authorities have recorded 3.17 million cases of the coronavirus in the Philippines, 287,856 of whom are still active cases. It has been 671 days since the first enhanced community quarantine was hoisted in some areas in Luzon. 

"In the meantime, strict adherence to minimum public health standards is still recommended," David said.  — Franco Luna

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