COVID-19 'uptick' in some areas in Metro Manila a 'slight concern' — OCTA Research

Published June 4, 2021, 2:55 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz


Independent research group OCTA on Friday, June 4, expressed a “slight concern” due to the observed “uptick” of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in some areas in Metro Manila.

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the uptick in cases shows that the trend in Metro Manila remains “uneven.”

“Some LGUs [local government units] are decreasing, for example, San Juan has a 17 percent decrease in cases over the past week but we see LGUs like Parañaque and Caloocan which had a fairly significant increase in cases. We hope, of course, these are just fluctuations in the trend due to isolated events,” David said during a virtual forum organized by the Cardinal Santos Medical Center and OCTA Research on Friday.

David pointed that the COVID-10 trend in Metro Manila had flattened after a few weeks of seeing a downward trend.

“This in itself is not bad if the trend is flat. But we hope that the cases will decrease further. If we look at the reproduction number it has increased slightly because the past downward trend has slowed down. That’s because the trend has tapered off or has leveled and the reproduction number has increased to 0.71. It’s still okay but we would really want to hold the reproduction number below 1,” he added.

However, David noted that the average daily COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila at present which is about 1,100 cases is still a “significant improvement” from the 8,000 cases during the peak of the surge between March 28 and April 4.

In the OCTA’s latest monitoring, Quezon City remains at the top of the list of LGUs in the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases.

“Although Quezon City is still having the highest number of cases, there is a rapid increase in cases in areas outside the NCR (National Capital Region) Plus bubble. For example, Davao City had 69 percent increase in new cases, and also Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo City, and Tuguegarao City,” David said.

OCTA Research fellow Prof. Ranjit Rye said the country’s fight against COVID-19 is not yet over.

“We’re very far from where we are supposed to be. The fight continues and our biggest challenge now in the NCR and all over the country is the fight against complacency. We need to remain vigilant,” Rye said.

“Our biggest mistake now is to overestimate our success as a company, as a community, as a nation against COVID and underestimate the virus. That is the worst mistake we can have now at this point because that could lead to a reversal of the trends and the gains that we have already achieved. Will lead to more deadly surges. We really cannot let our guards down,” he added.

OCTA Research fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco reiterated the group’s recommendation to prioritize the inoculation of NCR Plus 8 area, composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Pampanga, Batangas, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

Austriaco said that at a rate of 250,000 doses per day, the NCR Plus 8 will achieve “containment” of COVID-19 sometime in October.

“When you get containment about 40 percent to 50 percent, the attack rate will fall dramatically to about less than 1 in 100,000,” he explained.

“Containment will protect against future surges, which means that the capacity for future surge will be dramatically decreased. It will allow reopening of the economy and it will allow normal gatherings of vaccinated people without masks, without face shields,” he added.

Although outbreaks may still occur during containment, Austriaco said infections will not be widespread.

“So you will not be able to see the kind of surges that we saw in March and in April,” he added.