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Experts see slight upward trend in Metro Manila COVID-19 cases

There is a slight upward trend in the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila based on the numbers reported by the Department of Health (DOH) since January this year, the Octa Research Group said in its report published Saturday, February 20.

This means that while there is no significant upward or downward movement in the overall trend in the Philippines or Metro Manila, the reproduction rate (R) in Metro Manila – or the number of people that one COVID-19 positive case can infect – increased to 1.13 over the past week. 

Experts have said that the goal was to keep R below 1 to contain virus transmission until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

“This increase may be due to the effects of Chinese New Year and/or Valentine’s Day,” the research group said.

Graph from Octa Research Group

From February 13 to 19, Metro Manila had an average of 430 new confirmed COVID-19 cases daily, up 16% from the previous week's average of 370 new cases per day.

The Octa team said that a closer examination showed that some local government units in Metro Manila had a spike in new COVID-19 cases, particularly Pasay City.

“Pasay City nearly doubled its daily report of new cases compared to the previous week, with an average of 44 new COVID-19 cases per day. Its two-week daily attack rate increased to 7.58 per 100,000,  which now puts Pasay in the high-risk category per DOH guidelines,” the report noted.

The Octa team also said that the existence of a variant of SARS-CoV, the virus that causes COVID-19, cannot be ruled out as a possible cause of the sudden spikes.

Asked about a possible variant in Pasay City, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the Laging Handa briefing on Saturday that the “probability is always there” but other factors should be taken into consideration, too, such as the implementation of health standards and the capabilities of the local government unit in its pandemic response.

COVID-19 deaths in PH breach 12,000

On Saturday, the Philippines recorded 2,240 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of cases to 559,288.

The DOH reported that 239 people died of the new diseases, bringing the death toll to 12,068. There were also 504 more people who beat the disease, for a total of 513,120 recoveries.

On Thursday, February 8, Metro Manila mayors agreed to recommend to the national government that the capital region be placed under the least strict modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) starting March. While this is seen to help boost commercial activity in the region, it is also feared to cause a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Octa has earlier warned that confirmed cases in Metro Manila could hit 2,400 per day if it shifts to MGCQ. – Rappler.com

Pauline Macaraeg

Pauline Macaraeg is part of the Rappler Research Team’s fact-checking unit. Aside from debunking dubious claims, she also enjoys crunching data and writing stories about the economy, environment, and media democracy.

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