The OCTA Research Team has noted a continuous improvement in the country’s pandemic situation but advised the government to monitor “high-risk areas” across the country where cases are still increasing.
In the latest report from OCTA Research, a group of independent researchers who have been studying the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines, said daily cases, as well as the reproduction number in the country, are still on a downward trend.
The research group said the number of new cases per day in the country from September 29 to October 5 stood at 2,500, lower than the almost 3,200 daily cases reported from September 15 to 22.
The country’s reproduction number or “r-naught,” which is used to measure the number of people one confirmed case can infect, is still below 1 at 0.87 across the country.
In the National Capital Region (NCR), which remained the epicenter of the Philippines’ coronavirus crisis, it is now getting less than 1,000 cases per day, compared to the previous 2,500 cases in the past weeks according to the group.
Metro Manila’s r-naught is also low at 0.82. Experts said that a reproduction number below 1 means a flattened curve as local transmissions are being controlled.
However, Professor Guido David of the OCTA Research Team pointed out that while the trend is decreasing in the capital region, it is “uneven” throughout the country.
“On the way to flattening of the curve na tayo sa NCR, pero sa buong bansa, hanggang may tumataas pa na mga kaso, hindi pa natin masasabi na na-flatten na. Hopefully, macontrol iyan kasi hindi naman ganoon karami yung cases,” David said in an interview.
(We are on the way to flattening of curve in the NCR, but across the country, if there are areas that have still an increasing number of cases, we cannot say that it has been flattened. Hopefully, it can be controlled as the cases are not that many.)
Based on its report, the OCTA Research said the government “may consider reverting to a stricter quarantine classification” the following areas which they identified as high-risk because their daily attack rate per 1000 is greater than 1.0 percent.
• Benguet (including Baguio City)
• Davao Del Sur (including Davao City),
• Iloilo (including Iloilo City)
• Misamis Oriental (including Cagayan de Oro)
• Nueva Ecija
• Pangasinan (including Dagupan)
• Western Samar
• Zamboanga Del Sur (including Zamboanga City)
David described the increase in the number of cases in these areas as being on a “small scale” which he said were due to community transmissions possibly triggered by poor implementation of health protocols for locally stranded individuals who returned to these provinces.
The research team also recommended Cagayan and Isabela to be placed under stricter quarantine classifications due to “limited hospital capacity and high number of new cases,” the group said.
According to David, the government should double its monitoring, contact tracing, testing, and isolation efforts in these areas to immediately curb further transmission of the coronavirus.
The University of the Philippines professor also called on local government units who would open their border for tourists to ramp up the implementation of strict health and safety protocols especially for those coming from different provinces or regions.
“Importante na ma-maintain and minimum health requirements kagaya ng pagsusuot ng face mask at face shield, at physical distancing kasi pwedeng magreverse ang trend at pwedeng dumami and cases kung tayo ay magpapabaya,” he emphasized.
(It is important that we maintain minimum health requirements such as the mandatory wearing of face mask and face shield and observing physical distancing. The trend may reverse and the cases will resurge if we will lose control of the situation.)
“By November or this month, our target is less than 500 cases a day. Hopefully, by December, we can relax a bit. Hopefully by that time the cases had further decreased and were easier to control,” David said.