OCTA warns of another COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
OCTA warns of another COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila
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.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — The number of people testing positive for COVID in the National Capital Region (NCR) slightly increased over the past week, with a member of the OCTA Research group warning the public against another surge in new cases.

OCTA fellow Guido David yesterday said the NCR’s seven-day positivity rate, which is the number of people who test positive for the virus out of the total tests conducted, increased to 9.2 percent on Nov. 22 from 7.4 percent on Nov. 15.

The World Health Organization recommends a COVID positivity rate of five percent or below to effectively manage the pandemic.

“Unless these trends do not progress, we could be seeing the start of another wave of infections in Metro Manila similar to what we saw in June,” David said.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that an average of 261 COVID cases per day were recorded in Metro Manila from Nov. 17 to 23, slightly down from an average of 267 daily cases during the previous week.

David said a new COVID subvariant may be causing the surge in infections, noting the spread of the Omicron-BQ subvariant in other countries.

But he said the recent spike in COVID positivity rate in Metro Manila is not yet a cause for alarm.

“We still do not know if this will continue to increase. Right now, we are still monitoring, and we are not yet in the situation that we are alarmed. But we have to stay informed on what is happening,” David said.

OCTA has projected that new COVID infections in Metro Manila may increase to up to 400 cases per day by the end of the month.

Alert levels

Asked about the DOH’s plan to revise the alert levels for COVID-19, David said it would not be necessary if the government decides to lift the state of public health emergency due to the pandemic.

“Because that would mean that we treat COVID as endemic,” he said.

David, however, did not make a categorical recommendation on whether to lift the state of public health emergency or not, saying it must be thoroughly studied by the DOH.

“Over the past few months, we saw that we’re managing to live with the virus. But we still monitor it because we still have those who are unvaccinated and at higher risk, such as the elderly and those with comorbidities. These will be factors in the decision-making of the government,” he said.

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