The OCTA Research Team warns the government that a “significant surge” in COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) could occur in the next few weeks following the holiday season.
The researchers added on their report that the UK COVID-19 variant may be already in the Philippines and “super spreader” gatherings such as the Feast of the Black Nazarene could contribute to the possible surge.
To address this, the OCTA Research team called on the government to increase testing, contact tracing efforts, the capacity of the healthcare system, and expedite the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines for an efficient implementation of the immunization program.
According to the research team, the reproduction number of the virus, which indicates the average number of people who may contract the disease from an infected person, has increased to 1.13, based on the data from the Department of Health.
They explained that the last time the virus’ reproduction number became higher than 1 was on December 21 (1.02). A rate above one shows the virus is spreading, the researchers said.
‘Significant surge’ in COVID-19 cases in NCR possible – OCTA Research
Meanwhile, OCTA reported the number of new cases in Metro Manila also increased due to the more than 400 testing centers that resumed normal operations after the holidays.
“There is a clear upward trend now… and if this upward trend continues, the local governments will need to implement measures to reverse this direction before the pandemic gets out of hand,” the researchers said.
Although the cases in NCR increased, the positivity rate observed in the region over the past week remained at 4% which is within the 5% “ideal” rate recommended by the World Health Organization.
Outside Metro Manila, the OCTA Research identified Davao del Sur including Davao City, Isabela, Quezon, Misamis Oriental, Pangasinan, Agusan Del Sur, and Negros Oriental as provinces that reported an increase in new cases, although their positivity rate was below 10%.
As of January 11, Philippine health authorities have recorded 489,736 COVID-19 cases in the country. More than 2,000 new COVID-19 infections were reported.
The national case tally includes over 458,000 recoveries, some 22,000 active cases, and 9,416 deaths.