What’s causing the spike of COVID-19 cases in the country?

Published April 8, 2021, 1:05 PM

by Wilson Chua

I don’t blame the Department of Health (DOH) for the recent COVID-19 spike. This recent spike is all DILG. Data suggests that DILG fumbled its contact tracing efforts. To be specific, poor contact tracing meant fewer people quarantined. This led to more infections among the community. This cascaded and caused the most recent COVID-19 spike. It is borne out in DOH data.

This analysis started when Dr. Antonio Dans asked me to analyze the DOH data. Our goal was to try and find the root cause for this recent spike. And suggest ways to correct it. Here is our data-driven story in three charts.

Chart #1. How are we doing? (As of April 6, 2021)

How are we doing?

The top chart of the visual shows the growth of COVID-19 cases over the past 12 months. We break down the cases and show them in the bottom chart. We plot quarantined cases in green. We plot NON-quarantined cases in red. Spikes and NON-quarantined cases follow each other. We show this relationship in the next chart.

Chart #2. Relationship between quarantine efficiency and the Covid spike.

Relationship between quarantine efficiency and the COVID-19 spike.

We see a pattern where the number of quarantined cases and new total cases move in the opposite directions. Quarantined cases are isolated and prevented from spreading COVID-19. They stop infecting people. More quarantined individuals mean LOWER Covid cases. Cases increase or decrease based on quarantine efficiency.

Quarantine effectiveness depends on contact tracing performance. You must identify exposed contacts FIRST before you can quarantine people. And poor contact tracing results in fewer people quarantined.

DILG should have known about the downward trend as early as Jan 2021 (blue arrow in the chart below). They acknowledged this three (3) months later March 15, 2021 (orange arrow in the timeline). However, the trend continues downward.

Chart #3. Predictive Curve

Thanks to Peter Cayton (The Stats Guy), we plot all the weekly cases per barangay as blue dots. We create a predictive graph. This is the orange dashed line. This gives the ‘best predictive fit’ between weekly cases and the LGU’s quarantine ratio. When an LGU can quarantine 1 out of every 10 positive cases, we say that the quarantine ratio is 10%. At 10%, we predict that the LGU can expect, 10 new positive cases for that barangay for the week. Yet, when the LGU’s quarantine ratio nears zero, they can expect their cases to spike upwards of 450 or more!

Morale: Do not let your quarantine ratio fall below 10%! Some noteworthy social network reactions:

• “But it also incumbent upon DOH and the entire IATF to be aware of these charts. Ibig ba sabihin nyan they all operate in silos? This is inefficiency at its finest”.

• “If DILG’s to blame, DOH goes with them. They both belong to the IATF”

• “We have always advocated an integrated approach. Trumpet nila “whole of govt/nation” pero hangang doon lang. Complete control/management of LGUs. national should only provide strategic guidance. Operation and tactical level engagement should be the complete province of LGUs”.

• “Resources and technical should be given to LGUs para kung palpak- LGU accountable. Nangyayari ngayon national agencies – tapos kung challenged sa ground- LGUs ang sisisihin”

• “Thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 cases and serious damage to our economy we are experiencing now, could have been prevented if IATF has been more scientific in its approach to contact tracing, not their present “palakasan” and “pwede na” band aid approaches. The lives lost and the damage to our economy are stains in their hands”

What Can we do? First. Help prove me wrong. I learn more when you challenge this because you care. Over the long run, this helps us generate better actionable insights.

Second. You can help monitor your LGU’s contact tracing with this online tool. Here’s the link https://public.tableau.com/profile/wilson.chua#!/vizhome/DOHDatDropMarch2021/CovidDatatoExplainSpike

Select “LGU Stats Table..”

LGU stat table

Here we select NCR in the province and see the top performing LGUs. Select the last four weeks. The table shows the performance of each municipality for that province. In the case at hand, it is City of San Juan at 20.25% quarantine effectiveness. Please share to spread awareness and hold each of our LGUs accountable from now on.