Months after it saw a surge in cases driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, Metro Manila is now at “very low risk” status for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the independent research group OCTA said Friday, Dec. 3.
“We are down to 138 cases per day [over the past week]. That used to be the seven-day average even for a small local government, like San Juan, during the peak of the surge. OCTA research fellow Dr. Guido David said in a webicon organized by the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.
“Last year, we were averaging about 400 cases per day with a daily attack rate of almost 3 (cases per 100,000 population). Now, our daily attack rate is less than 1 and our positivity rate is 1.2 percent. This has never been better. Similar to the situation across the country, the number of ICU beds is the only metric that is slightly higher compared to last year due to the severity of the Delta variant,” he added.
According to the metrics used by OCTA, David said Metro Manila is now “classified as “very low risk, without the possible threat of the Omicron variant.”
Citing available data on the Omicron variant, David said “the threat of a surge is not that high or if there will be a surge it will not be the kind of surge that we have seen in the past due to the Delta, or even the Alpha and Beta.”
“In a worst-case scenario, it could be a light surge,” he pointed out. “The threat of another lockdown in the NCR is much, much lower based on this preliminary information.”
“We may recalibrate this outlook or projections once we have more information. This is based on preliminary information,” he reiterated.
David further cited that the initial data shows the Omicron is more transmissible than Delta, but vaccinations may help reduce transmissibility. It also shows that vaccines are very effective in reducing the severity of infection.
If the Omicron variant spreads across the country, David said that provinces with lower vaccine coverage may be vulnerable to surges and lockdowns.
The Philippines’ current seven-day average is 551 cases per day, which is also lower compared to the same period last year, David pointed out.
“Last year, it was 1,635 cases, and that is [considered] a very low number. That is equivalent to a daily attack rate of 1.49, but now our daily attack rate is less than 1 (0.50), which already qualifies as very low risk,” he said.
“The reproduction number is much lower now (0.24 compared to 1.49 last year). The number of active cases is also lower. The only metric that’s a little higher is the number of ICU beds occupied because of the recent surge due to the Delta variant, which caused more severe infections,” he added.