Home Editors' Picks Philippine COVID cases on downtrend — OCTA

Philippine COVID cases on downtrend — OCTA

HEALTH workers conduct house-to-house antigen testing on some residents of West Rembo, Makati. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

CORONAVIRUS infections in Manila, the capital and nearby cities were on a downtrend, according to researchers from the country’s premier university.

“The reproduction number in the National Capital Region (NCR) decreased to 1.79, while the weekly growth rate became negative for the first time since Dec. 24 last year,” OCTA Research Group fellow Fredegusto P. David said in a report posted on Twitter on Thursday.

He said the last time Metro Manila had fewer than 10,000 cases in one day was on Jan. 5, when the surge was still accelerating.

“The pattern is very similar to South Africa’s experience of a rapid surge followed by a dramatic decrease in infections,” he added.

“While this is encouraging news, it must be emphasized that NCR remains at critical risk as the average daily attack rate and positivity rate are still above critical levels,” Mr. David said.

The Philippines reported 31,173 coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 3.32 million.

The death toll rose to 53,153 after 110 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 26,298 to 3 million, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin.

It said 43.3% of 73,989 samples on Jan. 18 tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), way above the 5% threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

There were 275,364 active cases, 8,424 of which did not show symptoms, 262,168 were mild, 2,979 were moderate, 1,488 severe and 305 were critical.

DoH said 95% of the latest cases occurred from Jan. 7 to 20. The top regions with new cases in the past two weeks were Metro Manila with 8,883, Calabarzon with 6,471 and Central Luzon with 2,783 infections.

It added that 61% of deaths occurred in January, 3% in December and 7% in November.

The agency said 132 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 87 of which were reclassified as recoveries and one was tagged as a death, while 59 recoveries were relisted as deaths. Five laboratories failed to submit data on Jan. 18.

The Health department said 50% of intensive care unit beds in the country had been used, while the rate for Metro Manila was 51%.

The government aims to vaccinate 77 million people by the end of this quarter after a fresh surge in infections spurred by the heavily mutated Omicron variant.

The Philippines has fully vaccinated 56.44 million people as of Jan. 19, while 59.44 million have received their first dose, data from the Health department showed. About 5.61 million booster shots have been injected as of Wednesday.

Health Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje said the country had yet to finalize the guidelines for the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years old, which is expected to begin next month.

The Health Technology Assessment Council will issue recommendations as authorities continue to consult experts, she told a televised news briefing.

“We will look at the operational guidelines,” she said. “We might designate specific sites for children five to 11 years old.”

Ms. Cabotaje said the Philippine Pediatric Society and Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines have endorsed the vaccination of kids aged 5 to 11.

She said the government might also allow children aged 4 and below to get vaccinated.

“Maybe by the second quarter, around April or May, if there will be a vaccine for 0 to 4-year-old children, and if there are studies and recommendations already,” she said.