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MANILA, Philippines – Less than a month after Metro Manila was classified as “minimal risk” for COVID-19, the capital region is again deemed as “high risk” for the coronavirus disease as the number of infections rise, according to Octa Research.
In a Twitter post on Saturday night, January 1, Octa Research fellow Guido David said that the positivity rate in the capital region has reached 28.03%. The positivity rate is the percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed that are actually positive.
“With the increase in positivity rate, NCR is now classified as high risk,” David said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) set the 5% positivity rate benchmark for entering the new normal. This, however, should be maintained by at least two weeks for governments to consider reopening.
Metro Manila hospitals feel spike in COVID-19 cases
On Saturday, Gat Andres Bonifacio Medical Center (GABMC) in Manila announced that it would temporarily stop admitting patients in its emergency room (ER) due to the increasing number of hospital staff infected with COVID-19.
“All incoming patients shall still be evaluated and transferred to other city hospitals,” GABMC hospital director Dr. Ted Martin said.
At the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the country’s main hospital for COVID-19, spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario said that they have 85 COVID-19 patients as of Friday, December 31, up from 30 on December 25.
“For the past six days, nakita namin ‘yung steady increase ng mga pasyente na naa-admit sa aming ospital (we saw a steady increase in patients getting admitted in our hospital),” Del Rosario said in a interview with DZMM’s TeleRadyo on Friday.
Data from the DOH monitored by Rappler showed that hospital admissions in the capital region were up to 23.5% as of December 31 from 17% on December 24.
The Philippines started 2022 with 3,617 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day tally since October 30, 2021 when 4,008 new cases were reported. The country’s total COVID-19 caseload as of Saturday was 2,847,486.
On Friday, December 31, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed three local cases of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant. The country now has 14 cases of Omicron, which is sweeping across the globe and driving fresh surges in infections in several countries.
In a Rappler Talk interview on Friday, infectious disease specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante said that “most likely,” the Philippines was already experiencing an Omicron-driven surge. He said that one Omicron case can infect up to 16 people.
“You have this number of 800 then 1,600. This is a characteristic we can compare with other countries that is Omicron-driven jump in COVID-19 cases,” he said.
Solante also said that “given the fact that vaccination rates outside Metro Manila are still very low, there’s a higher likelihood that our healthcare systems will be overwhelmed again.”
Though over 90% of the eligible population in Metro Manila have been fully vaccinated, the government failed its target of inoculating 70% of it is nationwide population of 110 million in 2021.
Following the detection of the three local Omicron cases, Metro Manila will be under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15.
The DOH urged the public to continue following minimum public health standards and to get vaccinated or get their booster shots.
“We also have to keep our healthcare utilization at a manageable level. We can do this by working together to prevent the transmission of COVID-19,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement. – Rappler.com