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New subvariant may be causing uptick in NCR – OCTA

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
New subvariant may be causing uptick in NCR â OCTA
Catholic devotees wear face masks and observe social distancing as they attend September's last Friday mass (September 30, 2022) at Quiapo Church in Manila.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — A new subvariant of COVID-19 may be causing the recent uptick in new cases in the National Capital Region (NCR), according to a member of the OCTA Research group.

“We’re not sure why there’s a resurgence in cases in Metro Manila. It could be a new subvariant because we’re also monitoring new subvariants in other parts of the world,” OCTA fellow Guido David said in “The Chiefs” over Cignal TV’s One News on Monday night.

“In fact, in the UK (United Kingdom), they’re starting to see an increase again in cases. There could be a new subvariant causing that,” he added.

David said an increase in new COVID-19 cases in other provinces may also happen, citing high mobility due to the implementation of face-to-face classes and the upcoming Christmas season.

“It may have caused a spike in infections because what we are hearing is that some schools actually had to go back to online classes because of clustering of cases,” he said.

“And when they get infections from schools, usually they bring it back to their households where the rate of transmission is very high. So it could be partly an effect of the -ber months or face-to-face classes,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.

He noted, however, that other areas where in-person classes are being conducted have not reported increasing trend in cases like in the NCR.

The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier confirmed that COVID-19 cases have been recorded among students, teachers and non-teaching personnel, although it has not released the data.

Asked about the impact of the voluntary face mask policy in outdoor areas, David said they are not yet sure since the uptick is currently limited in some areas.

“Although cases are rising in NCR, we’re not seeing a rise in cases in Cebu, Iloilo, Davao or many areas where face masks are also optional,” he said, adding that mask compliance remains high in the NCR.

4,000 cases

About 4,000 COVID-19 cases could be reported daily by the end of the month, even higher if people will be less compliant with minimum public health standards (MPHS), the Department of Health (DOH) said.

“Based on our projections, this 4,000 daily cases nationally may happen by the end of October,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a press briefing yesterday.

“If the compliance rate to the MPHS decreases further, we may see higher numbers by the end of the month,” the health official added.

Meanwhile, the DOH on Monday reported an average of 2,288 cases daily for the period of Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, 10 percent lower than cases reported from Sept. 19-25.

A week ago, the average daily cases went up by 22 percent from Sept. 19-25 compared to Sept. 12-18.

Meanwhile, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvaña said the decline seen last Monday cannot be viewed as the start of a downward trend yet because the numbers climbed just a week prior to it.
“We are not yet seeing continued decline in cases. The decrease was also minimal. We cannot say yet if this will be a continuing (downward) trend,” Salvaña said.

Manageable

Amid the reported cases of COVID-19 transmission in schools, the DOH yesterday said that cases are still manageable.

“It is expected that cases will be there as long as these are not severe or critical cases. Transmissions are immediately cut off because there are safety officers in school,” Vergeire said, adding that the public, especially the parents or guardians of the children, does not need to worry.

“If it comes to a time that cases will surge and hospital admission will be overwhelming, that’s the time we will rethink our policy,” she added, though the health official said they do not have the data yet as to how many COVID-19 cases have been reported since face-to-face classes resumed last August.

Earlier, the DepEd said several schools across the country have reported cases of students, teachers and other school personnel being infected with COVID-19. – Rhodina Villanueva

COVID-19

OCTA

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