OCTA Research Team warns of alarming increase in COVID-19 cases outside NCR

Published January 22, 2021, 12:20 PM

by Noreen Jazul

An expert from the OCTA Research Team warned of an “alarming” increase in COVID-19 cases in some areas outside the National Capital Region, particularly in the northern provinces.

(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the “patterns of increase” in COVID-19 cases in northern provinces like Cagayan, Mt. Province, and Kalinga are “similar to those countries where we have seen the coronavirus variant.”

“We’re not saying the variant is there but we’re just saying the patterns of increase are similar,” David told CNN Philippines in an interview Friday.

“We must know that the Filipino who was identified with the variant in Hong Kong came from Cagayan. Although they have done sequencing in Cagayan and found no evidence of the variant. But still, the case increase there is somewhat concerning,” he added.

David said it’s also possible that the number of cases in these areas is “underestimated” due to lack of testing.

“They need a lot of testing in those areas. We need to scale up the testing there because we need to identify if there are more cases there than what we’re seeing,” he said.

“It’s very possible that [the number of cases] is underestimated especially since there are a lot of asymptomatics that are not being detected because we mainly resort to people with symptoms,” the expert added.

He also urged the local government to place the provinces where an alarming increase in cases has been noted under “priority areas.”

Other areas where the OCTA Research team has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases are Zamboanga del Sur and Cebu.

David said they will continue to monitor the provinces, as well as the areas where age restriction for people allowed to leave homes has been lowered.

“We will continue to monitor what’s happening in these areas where restrictions are being loosened or relaxed so we can see if there will be an effect in the number of cases,” David said when asked if he is in favor of the move of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow children 10-years-old and above to go out of their homes in areas under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

“This is unprecedented in the Philippines. This is the first time that we are taking these steps and we will definitely monitor this and report if there’s going to be an increase in cases,” he added.

David said the new cases in the National Capital Region and CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) have been on a “steady” level, with no significant increase recorded.

 
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