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COVID-19 wave taking longer than expected – OCTA

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
COVID-19 wave taking longer than expected â OCTA
Commuters line up to catch a jeepney ride along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Monday (August 8, 2022).
STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines — The current COVID-19 wave is taking longer than expected and may extend until the “ber” months, with high positivity rates recorded in 20 provinces, the OCTA Research Group said yesterday.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David said there are no signs of slowing down in COVID-19 infections, as he noted that more than 4,000 new cases were reported for the fourth straight day.

“The COVID-19 wave is already prolonged as it is. We were expecting a two-month wave just like in South Africa. We are past that and we have not reached the peak. It will definitely last into the ‘ber’ months as it is right now,” David told CNN Philippines.

OCTA also reported the increasing positivity rate in Metro Manila that jumped from 15.5 percent to 17.5 percent in one week as of Aug. 6.

The positivity rate refers to the percentage of tested people with positive results.

OCTA said “very high” or an over 20 percent positivity rate was registered in Albay, Benguet, Cagayan, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Isabela, La Union, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Rizal, Tarlac, Zambales, Aklan, Bohol, Capiz, Negros Oriental and Palawan.

David aired concern and alarm over Capiz’s positivity rate of 64 percent or almost as high as its peak last January during the Omicron variant surge.

During a recent Laging Handa briefing, David said the COVID-19 wave is “taking longer than what we expected.”

He added that the Omicron BA.4 wave in South Africa only lasted two months.

“It started more or less around June, July to August, so we should have already been through two months,” David said in Filipino and English.

“But we’re not yet in the peak. It’s taking longer. Right now, it’s looking like it will last up to four to five months, well into the ‘-ber’ months,” he added.

‘BA.5 most dominant’

Meanwhile, around 85 percent of recently tested COVID-19 samples at the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) are composed of the Omicron BA.5 subvariant.

PGC executive director Cynthia Saloma said results of the genome-sequenced COVID-19 samples showed that currently, BA.5 is the most predominant Omicron subvariant in the country.

“If you look at it very closely, in the past month alone, BA.5 is really the most predominant sample or variant that we were sequencing in the Philippines. It’s anywhere between 85 percent and above of our sequence samples,” Saloma said at the Laging Handa public briefing yesterday.

“We also detected some BA.4 and a few of BA.12.1 and very, very few of the BA.2.3, which was dominant last January. But all in all, you can probably say that the BA.5 is the current wave in the country,” she added.

As for other variants like BA.2.75, Saloma said the PGC is not seeing any additional cases.

“What we are monitoring now is the BA.5, and if there will be additional mutations,” she added.

The expert likewise noted that the BA.5 even has further subvariants detected in the country.

“In the US and Europe, a majority are BA.5.1. But in the Philippines, majority of BA.5 subvariants are composed of BA.5.2,” she said.

Currently, there are 3,107 BA.5 cases detected in the country.

On the other hand, there are a total of 104 BA.4 cases and 174 BA.2.12.1 cases detected in the Philippines.

4,621 new cases

Last Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 4,621 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the nationwide tally to 3,803,955.

Latest available data from the DOH showed that this is the fourth straight day with more than 4,000 new infections recorded daily, starting last Thursday with 4,439 cases.

The DOH also noted that active cases increased to 37,805 after an additional 461 cases were added to 37,344 cases logged last Saturday.

Meanwhile, the number of recoveries went up to 3,705,343 while there were 60,807 deaths recorded.

In the last two weeks, the regions with the highest number of cases were the National Capital Region with 15,580, followed by Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) with 10,125 and Central Luzon with 5,109.

Western Visayas and Central Visayas remained at the fourth and fifth ranking with 2,797 and 2,141 cases, respectively.

30,000 a week

Close to 30,000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the country for the past week, according to the DOH.

The latest COVID-19 bulletin issued by the DOH yesterday showed that 27,331 new cases were logged from the Aug. 1 to 7.

It also noted 76 new patients in severe and critical conditions and 80 verified deaths, 32 of which occurred from July 25 to Aug. 7.

Meanwhile, the daily average number of new COVID-19 infections is 3,904 – 13 percent higher than the number recorded from July 25 to 31.

Particularly last Sunday, the DOH recorded 772 severe and critical COVID-19 patients who sought admission in hospitals – 9.3 percent of the total COVID-19 admissions in the country.

Out of the 2,514 intensive care unit beds intended for COVID-19 patients, 624 or 24.8 percent were occupied while 6,648 or 30.9 percent out of 21,548 non-ICU COVID-19 beds are being used.

The DOH also reported that as of last Sunday, more than 71 million individuals or 92.06 percent of the target population have been vaccinated against the disease after an additional 198,109 individuals were added from Aug. 1 to 7.

Some 16.6 million individuals have received their booster shots, including 387,631 individuals that received booster shots last week.

The DOH likewise said that 6.7 million senior citizens or 77.90 percent of the target A2 population were able to receive their primary vaccine series.

The agency then reminded the public to continuously observe minimum public health standards under Alert Level 1.

“Remember to always wear a best-fitted face mask and, if possible, stay in well-ventilated areas. Once symptoms are felt, immediately isolate. For additional protection, have yourselves vaccinated and boosted,” it said. – Rhodina Villanueva

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