Here's why Metro Manila has a higher COVID-19 positivity rate

Here's why Metro Manila has a higher COVID-19 positivity rate
People queue outside SM City Sta. Mesa in Quezon City to register for the upcoming December 2022 barangay elections despite the light rainfall on Thursday, July 21, 2022.
The STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Think tank OCTA Research said Monday that, based on Department of Health figures, the COVID-19 positivity rate — the percentage of tests that come out positive — has been rising in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. 

Why is that? And is that something to be worried about? Infectious disease expert Dr. Benjamin Co noted in an online exchange with Philstar.com that only areas closest to Metro Manila are seeing upticks in cases.

  • National Capital Region: 15.6% (September 17) from 13.3% (September 10) 
  • Bulacan: 16.1% from 11.5% 
  • Cavite: 16.6% from 13.9% 
  • Laguna: 10.7% from 9.8% 
  • Pangasinan: 8% from 6.9% 
  • Rizal: 18.7% from 17.4%

"You have to take into consideration how dense NCR is. It's the smallest region and has the largest population. Almost 15 million people in 660 square kilometers of land area. Or 25,000 people per square kilometer," he said. 

READ: 800 new Omicron cases detected in Philippines

"With increasing mobility and school, it is inevitable that there will be a rise in cases again. And when NCR sneezes, the contingent provinces near it —Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal — will also see rising cases."

At the same time, increased mobility and relaxed restrictions with the opening of face-to-face classes and the removal of mask mandates might make for a more challenging situation ahead. 

RELATED: Filipino students return to in-person classes after 2 years of distance learning

Co pointed out that after the past surge, there is again an uptick in the daily cases while Filipinos are not routinely testing with RT-PCR tests anymore. 

"We remain focused on the healthcare utilization index which remains low for now. And that's a good sign," he said. 

"Everyone should try to get a booster as soon as they can. This will not be going away anytime soon and the cases will take an up and down swing for a while. This is the nature of BA.5 and BA.4."

The World Health Organization's recommended benchmark for opening economies is a positivity rate of at most five percent. Only Zambales, which recorded a 4.4% positivity rate, managed to stay within that benchmark in the past week. — from a report by Franco Luna

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