Let’s start with today’s data release from the Health Agency.
The most number of cases since the pandemic began in the Philippines marks a milestone with 7,103 new cases announced today. This puts the total number of cases close to 650,000 as the second surge dramatically changes the landscape of the pandemic at a time when the economy is tattered and vaccines are still in the waiting list.
Here’s what the reader needs to focus on:
- The number of active cases has ballooned to 11.3 percent (more than 73,000 active). Remember, it takes two weeks to even consider these cases as “recovered” using a time-based endpoint. As more cases accumulate, the number of active cases will continue to balloon. Meaning more potentially infectious people circulating.
- The percent of positive patients being tested are at an all time high – 15 percent! This is based on more than 35,000 being tested. On the premise that it is the same positivity at 50,000 people tested, that would mean around 7,500 new cases tomorrow.
- On a granular level, NCR accounted for more than 53 percent of the total cases with 3,779 new cases. CALABARZON reported 1,090 (15.3 percent) followed by Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, CAR and Cagayan Valley.
- Among the 17 LGUs in NCR, Quezon City led with 752 new cases or 20 percent of the total cases in Mega Manila. Manila, Makati, Caloocan, Pasig, Pasay, Taguig, Parañaque had more than 200 cases. Marikina, Mandaluyong, and Valenzuela had less than 200 but more than 100 new cases. 14 of 17 LGUs in NCR were among the top ten cities with most cases today.
- On a provincial level, Bulacan led with 439 new cases. Eight of the top ten provinces reported triple digits.
The post for the last few days had one take home message – this surge is real.
The indirect message is that, if we don’t this surge seriously, it will end up ugly.
In the March 17, 2021 Philippine COVID-19 Update of the OCTA Research Group, NCR alone continued the upward trend in numbers and accounted for more than 50 percent of the total daily cases in the country. The reproduction number is up at Rt = 1.96, its highest since May 2020. With a daily attack rate of 15.9 per 100,000 population over the past 7 days, the region is now classified as high risk. The positivity rate for tests is at an all time high at 12 percent, with testing in the NCR up by 18 percent to almost 25,000 tests daily. The hospital bed occupancy for COVID19 patients in the NCR is at 49 percent, with ICU occupancy for COVID19 patients at 64 percent based on data from the Health Agency.
The top 25 LGUs in the country with the most number of new COVID19 cases over the past week (March 10-16) showed very high attack rates (>20/day/100,000) in Pasay City, Makati, Navotas and Santiago, Isabela. As a matter of fact, Santiago, Isabela had a 24,300 percent (twenty four thousand three hundred percent) change in new cases over that period.
While the province of Cebu still has relatively high numbers, it has significantly slowed down and its major LGUs like Cebu City, Mandaue, and Lapu Lapu have seen a drop in new cases and attack rate as well.
Those that are shaded in yellow are seeing significant increases and are alarming, while those in orange hue have very significant numbers depending on the parameter (e.g., change in new cases or daily attack rate or hospital occupancy).
“…by simulating the combined effects of localized lockdowns, curfews and stricter implementation of health protocols…the projection compares Rt=2.0 (trends currently observed in NCR continue or if city ordinances and interventions have zero effect on the trend). The result is that more optimistic scenario can reduce the number of new COVID19 cases by the end of March to less than 4,000, compared with 7,500 if there are no changes (i.e., if the current trends of Rt=2.0 persist).
By mid-April the model that takes into consideration the city ordinances could lead to 6,000 new cases, compared to 16,000 if current trends continue.
Localized lockdowns may work against variant-driven surges but they are more effective in tandem with expanded testing, contact tracing and supported isolation. Localized lockdowns are also more effective when communities support them. Hence, LGUs organizing lockdowns must ensure that they are humane and protective of individual rights, and that the communities affected must be provided food, water and other minimum basic needs.OCTA Research National Update March 17, 2021