Uptick seen as COVID-19 positivity plateaus

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Uptick seen as COVID-19 positivity plateaus
Commuters endure the long queue as they wait in line to hop on a bus at the Roosevelt Avenue bus station along EDSA in Quezon City on November 2, 2022.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — A slight uptick in new COVID-19 cases was reported in the National Capital Region over the past week, with a member of the OCTA Research Group noting that the positivity rate has started to plateau.

Citing data from the Department of Health, OCTA fellow Guido David said the region reported an average of 268 new cases per day from Nov. 10 to 16 – up 11 percent from the 240 average daily new cases reported the previous week.

David said the observed spike in cases was mainly due to lower testing volume due to the recent All Saints’ Day holiday.

Meanwhile, the NCR positivity rate – or the number of people who test positive out of the total tests conducted – slightly decreased from 7.8 percent on Nov. 8 to 7.4 percent on Nov. 15.

“The slower rate of decrease indicates a plateauing of the trend. While less than five percent positivity rate is still attainable if the downtrend
continues, there is a possibility that the positivity rate will remain above this level,” David said.

“There is also a possibility that an uptick may happen soon. We will have to see what happens over the next few weeks,” he added.

Reproduction number increased from 0.83 on Nov. 6 to 1.02 on Nov. 13, while hospital utilization rate remained very low.

David, who earlier projected that cases could drop to less than 100 per day in the region by the end of the month, said NCR remains at “low risk” for COVID-19 based on their metrics.

The government recently eased health protocols in the country, including the mask mandates in indoor and outdoor areas.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) has cautioned the public against the practice of self-medication and advised them to consult medical experts for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

The DOH said self-medication contributes highly to the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the country through the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials. AMR is a condition that occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, thereby making infections harder to treat.

“The antimicrobial resistance has been a long-standing problem of the health sector. We have seen this happening to our kababayan here in the country,” said DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire in a recent press briefing.?

“Right now, the problem of antimicrobials is increasing in the country. What is critical here is we will reach that point wherein the ordinary drugs we use will not be effective to treat infections anymore, and we will become resistant because we are misusing and overusing these antimicrobials,” Vergeire said.

She added that this is the reason why the DOH continues to call on the public to listen only to medical professionals on which drugs to take.

“Let us stop being our own doctors. We must not self medicate and take drugs without the guidance of our doctors,” Vergeire stressed.

At the same time, Vergeire said that contributing to the AMR problem is the practice of Filipinos to either share their antibiotics or the prescription to their relatives, friends, or neighbors.

“Filipinos have this characteristic of being very generous and always willing to help. At times, in communities, when their neighbor experience symptoms similar to what they experience, they share their medicines. This is a misuse of antimicrobials,” she said.

She added, “We also have this practice in communities that if we have a prescription, we lend it to our neighbors.”

The health official said they are now looking at stricter implementation of prescription medicine policies.

“If you buy antibiotics now, the pharmacies will no longer allow it if you don’t have prescription. In addition, the prescription will also have to be submitted,” said Vergeire.

According to the World Health Organization, AMR is a global health and development threat, and that misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens. – Rhodina Villanueva

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