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COVID-19 surge 'may have' peaked in NCR, still rising in other areas — OCTA

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
COVID-19 surge 'may have' peaked in NCR, still rising in other areas â OCTA
A grade school student tries on a pair of school uniforms inside a store in Marikina on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in preparation for the opening of face-to-face classes on Aug. 22.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:09 p.m.) — The surge in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila over the past few months may have finally already peaked, independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research noted Friday.

OCTA Research earlier pegged the peak coming within the week of July 16 to 23 based on the data they had at the time. The projection ultimately fell through, the think tank admitted after cases suddenly started rising again after weeks of decline.

In a radio interview aired over DZMM TeleRadyo on Friday morning, OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the group observed a decreasing growth rate from what they saw as peak within Metro Manila in the past few days. 

"What we noticed is that the growth rate is going down in Metro Manila. Actually, in Iloilo, too, the growth rate is going down," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

The term growth rate measures the speed of the increase in COVID-19 infections in a given area. 

"We see that maybe, cases have peaked in Metro Manila, hopefully, it will continue too in Iloilo and maybe a few other provinces. But in other regions, cases are still rising and not yet at its peak."

David still urged sobriety despite the encouraging trend, saying Filipinos should still observe minimum public health standards as much as possible. 

"There's still no certainty that cases will keep going straight down now. There's a possibility, but it still isn't sure yet. We have to wait one week, two weeks just to see if it keeps going down," he said. 

"What we noticed is that before, we had 0 deaths. Now we are in the 20s. COVID is still here. We're not alarmed, we're not going to raise the alert level, but it's still here."

Outbreaks in schools are not avoidable with students returning to face-to-face classes soon, though these won't cause any surges as long as they're contained, the OCTA fellow said. He added that most children who get COVID are either mild or asymptomatic. 

"We have to make sure that concerned institutions are ready," he said. 

Of the 4,533 new cases tallied by the Department of Health on Thursday, the National Capital Region owned 27% or 1,226 of the country's cases for the day.

In an earlier advisory Wednesday afternoon, David said that the one-week growth rate in the capital region decreased to 5% from 14% on August 3 and down from 21% growth on July 26 — a pattern that continued until the end of the week.

"This once again gives us hope that the peak of the wave in the NCR may occur by next week [but with] no guarantees, of course...The trends need to be consistent for about a week before we can confidently say there is a downward trend," OCTA fellow Guido David said in a tweet. 

Limited data

Sought for comment, pediatric infectious disease expert Benjamin Co told Philstar.com in an online exchange that while the trends have been relatively consistent, the limited data hinders any conclusive projections. 

"The data has been consistently constant the past few weeks with minor increase of cases week on week. However, the positivity rate remains high," he said.

"The projections are based on the data that we have. We cannot project what we do not know."

Co, chief of the Infectious Diseases Division of Pediatrics at UST Hospital, pointed out that antigen test results are not included in the daily count.

"Antigen testing may be low or unheard of in more remote provincial areas as well. And because PCR testing is quite expensive, there may be those that do not get tested," he said.

Co also pointed to the lack of support systems at the local level. He cited the lack of isolation areas in any local government unit as one major reason behind rising healthcare utilization.

He added that because of this, alert levels moving forward should be based on the healthcare capacity of every LGU.

"Moving forward is a difficult prediction to make as the virus continues to evolve. For now, everything looks normal. Until you test positive," he said.

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

METRO MANILA

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