Octa Research: COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila climbing faster than expected

An expert studying the coronavirus pandemic in the country said that COVID-19 cases in virus epicenter Metro Manila are climbing faster than expected.

In a message to Rappler on Tuesday, March 9, Octa Research fellow Guido David said that "actual cases are now beating their projections" in the capital region.

Graph from the Octa Research Group


Guido said that reproduction number (R) – the number of people that one COVID-19 positive case can infect – in Metro Manila is at 1.8.

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

In its report on March 5, the Octa team said that COVID-19 was spreading fast in Pasay City, where cases of the more infectious South African variant were first detected in the Philippines.

The Philippines' daily positivity rate – or the percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed that are actually positive – also hit 9.16% on March 3, according to Rappler monitoring.

It was the highest rate recorded since September 18, 2020, when the country tallied 9.23%.

For 4 straight days until Monday, March 8, the Philippines logged over 3,000 cases.

The latest Octa report was released as the Philippines breached the 600,000-mark in COVID-19 cases, as the health department reported 2,668 new infections on Tuesday, March 8, pushing total cases in the country to 600,428.

By March 8, the COVID-19 death toll in the Philippines was at 12,528, as there were 7 new deaths recorded. Recoveries grew by 171 to 546,078.

Of the total cases, 41,822 are active.

On Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the "underlying cause" of why the country is experiencing a rise in cases is the public's "non-compliance" with the health protocols for COVID-19.

She said that the spike in COVID-19 cases "cannot be solely attributed" to the presence of the more infectious variants in the country. She urged the public to strictly follow minimum health standards, such as wearing of face mask and face shield, frequent hand washing, practicing social distancing, and skipping non-essential trips outside the house.

On March 5, the health department reported 52 new cases of the more infectious South African variant, bringing total cases of this virus type in the country to 58.

Experts said that the South African variant called B1351 may have an impact on vaccine efficacy.

Meanwhile, 31 new cases were also reported for the United Kingdom variant of the virus, called B117 – which experts also say is more transmissible than the original version of the virus. This pushed total infections of this virus type in the Philippines to 118. – 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.