Local and foreign tourists are seen in Puka Beach in Boracay, Aklan, April 6, 2023. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

THE weekly coronavirus infection rate in Manila and nearby cities has hit 6.5%, above the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the OCTA Research Group.

The positivity rate in Metro Manila increased on April 8 from 4.4% a week earlier, OCTA fellow Fredegusto P. David said in a report.

Based on the report, Misamis Oriental province in southern Philippines had the highest positivity rate at 16.3%, followed by Camarines Sur at 14%, Palawan at 13.6%, Davao del Sur at 12.2% and Rizal at 11.8%.

Isabela in northern Philippines came in sixth at 10.9%, followed by South Cotabato at 10.2%, Cavite at 9.3%, Cebu at 7.7% and Negros Occidental at 7.6%.

Benguet was also on the list at 6.3%, Laguna at 4.9%, Zamboanga del Sur at 4.3%, Pampanga at 3.6%, Bulacan at 3%, Batangas at 2.9%, Pangasinan at 2.7% and Iloilo with 2.5%.

Mr. David said the national positivity rate was 7.1% as of April 4.

Filipinos had a long weekend during the Holy Week after President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. declared April 6,7, and 10 as regular holidays, giving them time to visit beaches, parks and other tourist spots.

Authorities have yet to detect a new surge in infections after the government relaxed many COVID-19 restrictions including quarantine rules for travelers.

OCTA earlier cited a decline in the country’s coronavirus testing output.

In its weekly COVID-19 report released on March 30, the World Health Organization said globally, nearly 3.6 million new cases and more than 25 000 deaths were reported on Feb. 27 to March 26, a decrease of 27% and 39%, respectively, from the past 28 days.

“Despite this overall downward trend, it is important to note that several countries have recently reported significant increases in cases,” it said, adding that as of March 26, more than 761 million confirmed cases and about 6.8 million deaths had been reported globally.

The WHO has also been citing delays and declines in testing outputs globally.

“Current trends in reported COVID-19 cases are underestimates of the true number of global infections and reinfections as shown by prevalence surveys,” it said in the March 30 report. “This is partly due to the reductions in testing and delays in reporting in many countries.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza