COVID-19

Due to Delta, gov’t gets stricter on COVID-19 ‘moderate risk’ areas

Bonz Magsambol
Due to Delta, gov’t gets stricter on COVID-19 ‘moderate risk’ areas

PANDEMIC-HIT PH. Catholic faithfuls wear face shields as they queue along Carriedo Street to attend the scheduled Friday mass at Quiapo Church in Manila.

RAPPLER

'We're lowering our thresholds because of the Delta variant's transmissibility patterns,' says Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire

Due to the threat of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, the public should expect heightened restrictions to curb further spread of the virus.

In a televised briefing on Tuesday, August 3, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the government has revised its metrics when imposing restrictions in areas showing a rise in COVID-19 cases.

“We will not rely on current metrics, that it’s only when an area is high risk that we declare a spike in cases and raise restrictions. We’re lowering our thresholds because of the Delta variant’s transmissibility patterns,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Vergeire said the government will now impose “preemptive restrictions” for moderate risk areas for COVID-19.

Kapag nasa moderate risk pa lang po ang ating mga lugar, atin na pong sina-sound ang alarm at atin na pong gagawan ng preemptive restrictions ang mga lugar na ito,” she said.

(If an area has reached moderate risk classification, we will already sound the alarm and we will make preemptive restrictions.)

One of the government’s parameters in deciding the quarantine classification of an area is assessing its risk for COVID-19 infection. Two of the indicators the government looks at are the average daily attack rate (ADAR) and the two-week growth rate (2WGR).

The ADAR is the number of new cases in a city or province over a two-week period, divided by the population of the city or province. The higher the ADAR of a place, the higher the risk of getting COVID-19.

  • Low risk: ADAR < 1
  • Moderate risk: ADAR 1-7
  • High risk: ADAR > 7

The two-week growth rate is the percent increase or decrease of the number of new cases in the past two weeks, compared to the number of new cases in the two previous weeks. If this growth rate is positive for a city or province, that means the epidemic is growing. If the rate is 0 or negative, the epidemic is stable or shrinking.

  • Low risk: 2WGR < or = 0
  • Moderate risk: 2WGR 0-200%
  • High risk: 2WGR > 200%

These two indicators are not the primary considerations for when to upgrade or downgrade a locality’s quarantine classification, however. They only give the task force an idea of how bad the coronavirus epidemic is in an area. The healthcare utilization rate in an area is also considered.

Metro Manila will return to a rigid lockdown mode from August 6 to 20, with additional restrictions for the week before, to prepare for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. The government announced the new restrictions when the capital region was already at “moderate risk” for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, August 3, or three days before the lockdown, Vergeire said that Metro Manila was back to a “high risk” classification due to the increase in cases.

The Philippines now has 216 known cases of the highly transmissible variant, but there are concerns that the actual number may be far higher, as the Philippine Genome Center is only sequencing a small percentage of the positive cases.

Of the 216 reported cases, 22% or 47 are from Metro Manila.

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The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is ravaging Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

To prevent further local transmission of the Delta variant, the Philippine government has also imposed travel bans from countries where it is widespread. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.