With close to 7K cases on 05.31.2021, will we land in the top ten again?

The bad is news is that we landed tenth among all countries in the world with MOST new cases, yesterday. The number of cases today and yesterday were just a few hundred cases, as the Health Agency announces 6,684 new cases today. This is based on reports from May 29, where 13.7% of the close to 45,000 individuals tested were positive. The positivity rate has really not gone down and is unsettling in the sense that the only way we will be seeing lower cases is when the positivity rate drops. (See the analysis of positivity rate per province or region below as reported by OCTA Research).

With more cases than recoveries, the active cases now approach 55,000.

And with 107 new deaths, the case fatality ratio for outcomes remains steady at 1.78% as the Philippines ends the month of May 2021 with 1.23M total cases since the start of the pandemic.

NCR swapped with CALABARZON for the lead today but both regions reported less than 1,000 cases each. NCR owned less than 15% of the total cases. NCR + CALABARZBON + Central Luzon accounted for only 39% of the total cases for the day. Again, ALL regions in the country continued to report triple digits.

Quezon City continues to lead Mega Manila and nationally with more than 200 new cases. Nine of the 17 LGUs in NCR were among the top twenty cities with most cases.

On a provincial level, Negros Occidental took the lead over Laguna.

Other cities outside of NCR among the top ten cities with most cases were: Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod City, Davao City, Iloilo City and Zamboanga City.

The updated OCTA Research Monitoring report for May 31, 2021, shows that while the downward trend in NCR plus bubble continues, it has actually slowed down. The national reproduction number is up at 1.02.

In the NCR, the numbers took a dramatic decline over the past weeks. Last week, the decline was only 1%. Other areas like Cavite and Laguna saw increases. This pushes the reproduction number of NCR up at 0.69 from a previous low os 0.54.

The full report of OCTA Research is provided below. Notice the tremendous increases in certain regions/provinces. While the cases may have decreased in Palawan, the decrease is not reflective of the actual nature of the positive cases as the positivity rate there is 53%. Or 1 in every 2 people tested, being positive. Camarines Sur has the highest positivity rate and up at 90% increase in cases. Isabela and Cagayan have more than 100% rise in cases and positivity rates that are more than 25%.

Another 7K+ to end the week as the national Rt is up at 0.95 on 05.30.2021

The Health Agency reports 7,058 new cases on the last Sunday for the month of May. Today’s report is based on positivity rate of 13.2% for reports on May 28 with close to 45K tests done. The total number of actives are also up at close to 54K as there are more cases than recoveries. With one day left for the month of May, will we see more than 1.23M total cases?

New deaths reported today were 139. This puts the case fatality ratio for outcomes steady at 1.78%.

Notice the higher hospitalization utilization rate nationally (58%) versus the NCR (54%). As of yesterday, the NCR owned 15.5% of the total cases for the country, while NCR plus bubble (including CALABARZON and Central Luzon) accounted for 50% of the total cases in the nation.

With the cases now spreading to the regions outside of NCR, the cases this week are up, as the Philippines is one of the countries in Asia that takes a U turn in terms of new daily cases. Thailand and Indonesia are two other countries that are seeing an upward rise even before the cases have significantly gone down.

Taiwan and Malaysia, on the other hand, are continue to report rising cases, as Malaysia for the first time landed in number 8 among the top 10 countries with most cases yesterday.

While the Philippines saw an initial decline in cases last Sunday, this was due to a technical glitch in the COVIDKaya system of the country. An issue that was never answered by the agency as to where the unaccounted numbers had gone.

The past two months saw a decline in cases but not enough to reach pre-surge levels. And as the numbers took a downward trajectory, the past few days saw a quick U turn in number of cases. Notice also the confirmed deaths for the months of March to May 28, 2021. While the total deaths are a little less than 21,000 to date, the last 3 months alone accounted for more than 40% of all deaths reported since the beginning of the pandemic in the country.

Testing capacity stayed around the 45K-50K mark as the positivity rate, although on a decline plateaued at 12.5-13.5% in the past week.

Close to 7.5K new cases, are we seeing an uptick in the PH on 05.29.2021

The Philippines landed in ninth spot among countries with most cases for the day yesterday, 05.28.2021. In the Asian region, we were number 1 with most cases for the day, overtaking neighboring Malaysia that is seeing rising cases as well. The world today passes the 170 million cases mark today.

While the new cases were slightly lower today compared to yesterday, the Health Agency nevertheless reported higher than the average cases from a week ago with 7,443 new cases today. Today’s report is from reports of May 27, with a positivity rate of 12.5% from more than 46,000 tests done. Only 2 laboratories did not submit reports on time (accounting for <0.5% of the reports). Active cases remain at 4.4% or more than 53,000.

There were 156 new deaths added placing the total case fatality ratio for outcomes steady at 1.78%. As NCR sees a plateau in cases, the rise in total new daily cases are mostly coming from regions outside of Mega Manila. In order to stem the increase in cases, the government must declare stricter quarantine measures in these regions as majority of them are currently on either MGCQ or GCQ status. There is not need to wait until June 1 before the quarantine status is placed under stricter measures. Doing so will result in higher morbidity and mortality in these areas.

We’re now seeing higher cases because regions outside of NCR are seeing rising new cases. ALL regions (except for CALABARZON and NCR) report triple digits. CALABARZON led the day, for the fourth time this week with 1,171 cases followed by NCR with 1,154. This brings down the new cases of NCR to an all time low of 15.5% of the total cases in the country. The regions seeing surging cases are Western Visayas, Cagayan Valley, Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Ilocos Region, CARAGA, Davao Region, MIMAROPA, SOCCSKARGEN, and BARMM.

In NCR, while Quezon City continues to be the city to beat, other cities with triple digits are Manila, Pasig and Parañaque. Eight of 17 LGUs from NCR remain in the top 20 cities with most cases.

Laguna had the most cases today on a provincial level. This was followed by Isabela, Misamis Oriental, Iloilo, and Cavite.

Cities outside of NCR LGUs that saw a spike in cases were: Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo City and Davao City. They came in second to fourth in rank, respectively.

Close to 9K as we approach the weekend on 05.28.2021

The higher numbers are back with the Health Agency announcing 8,748 new cases for today. With only 3K plus recoveries, this puts the active cases back to more than 53,000 (4.4% of total). The data is based on a positivity rate of 12.8% from close to 50,000 tests conducted last May 26. Notice that the positivity rate is still high, and remains steady at the 12-13% range for the past weeks. Most of the cases are now spread all over various regions as other regions outside of NCR are seeing rising cases.

There were 187 new deaths announced. This puts the case fatality ratio for outcomes higher now to 1.78% (from 1.77% yesterday). ICU bed utilization on national level remains at 59%. However, this does not reflect the real situation in the different cities or provinces or regions outside of NCR.

While NCR continued to top all regions, it accounted for 18.6% of the cases yesterday. Central Luzon and CALABARZON were second and third, respectively. These three regions alone were responsible for 50% of the total cases today. Note, however, that ALL regions in the country reported triple digits.

In the NCR, Quezon City continued to lead the pack with 424 (26%) new cases. Eleven of 17 cities in Mega Manila are back in the top twenty cities with most cases for the day.

And while Cavite shows its true numbers to lead the provincial level tally today, Cagayan and Pampanga are seeing rises in cases. Among the top ten cities, six of them are outside of the NCR. They are: Davao City, Tuguegarao, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, and Zamboanga City.

Total of 1.2M cases is breached on 05.27.2021

Blood bath Thursday. The Health Agency reported 6,483 new cases today (as expected because of the high positivity rate) based on 12.5% positivity for May 25 data with close to 50,000 cases. The new cases today was enough to breach the 1.2 million total cases mark as we now track the next hundred thousand target. With less recoveries than new cases, the number of active cases are up again at 4%.

Even the deaths were not spared the sad news, with 210 new deaths today. The case fatality ratio is now up at 1.77% from a previous of 1.76%. ICU occupancy is still higher on the national level compared to the NCR. The OCTA Research provides a summary of information on the state of the various cities outside of NCR, which explains why the positivity rate of the country is averaging at 13% (and has not continued to decrease) and the new cases averaging at 5-6K/day.

NCR is back on top (as expected) with 1,327 new cases and the only region to have quadruple digits for the day. The rise of cases among regions outside of the NCR plus bubble is worrisome. Notice Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Davao Region, SOCCSKSARGEN, Bicol, Zamboanga, Northern Mindanao, MIMAROPA seeing higher cases than usual.

In NCR, Quezon City, Manila, Makati and Pasig report triple digits. Eleven out of 17 cities from Mega Manila land in the top 20 cities in the country with most cases for the day.

In one of the most unusual days, Cavite reported only 154 cases (a statistical improbability), shifting the lead on a provincial level to Cagayan.

While Quezon City continued to top the haul among cities with most cases, several urban areas outside of NCR are among the top 10. In second today is Davao City. Others were: Zamboanga City, General Santos City, Tuguegarao, Cagayan de Oro, and Iloilo City.

The OCTA Research monitoring update as of May 27, 2011 is provided below in full. The positivity rate for COVID19 testing is now lower in the NCR at 10% compared to the national positivity rate. The 7-day average of new cases has declined by 23% and currently hovers around 1,000 plus daily average from May 20-26. The average daily attack rate is also lower at 7.41 (moderate risk). And as NCR continued to improve, the total cases in the country are plateauing or declining too slowly because we are seeing a significant rise in cities outside of the region.

Those that saw a significant increase in cases in the last week were: Davao City, Puerto Princesa, Butuan, General Santos and Cebu City. Even with increase in cases in Cebu City, the health care utilization here is much lower than most of the other top cities at only 20%. More than 70% health care utilization rate were seen in Zamboanga City, Iloilo City, Dasmariñas (Cavite), Baguio City, Butuan, and San Fernando (Pampanga).

Positivity rate plateaus at 13% plus: trending between 5-6K? Data for 05.26.2021

It’s a Wednesday, so the numbers are slightly higher than the Tuesday data. The Health Agency reports 5,310 new cases today with close to 7500 recoveries, dropping the active cases to less than 50,000 or at 3.9%. The cases today is based on tests from May 24 with positivity rate of 13.5%. The high positivity rate which has plateaued at this number is not comfortable information because it would mean that the total numbers would still hover between 5-6K daily. Nevertheless, the number of cases is on track to the 1.2M mark before the end of the month.

There were 150 new deaths reported today. This means that the case fatality ratio for outcomes remains steady at 1.76%. ICU bed utilization is higher nationally than the NCR (as the number of total cases in the NCR are now 80% less than what it was during the beginning of the second surge).

For the third day in a row, CALABARZON continued to take the lead on a regional level. It was also the only region that reported quadruple digits for the day. Many regions outside of the top three (Regions IV, NCR, and III) were seeing high cases including Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula.

Among LGUs in NCR, the top three remained to be Quezon City, Pasig, and Manila. There were 7 of 17 LGUs from NCR among the top twenty cities with most cases for the day.

Cavite took back the lead among provinces with most cases, followed by its neighbor Laguna.

Cities outside of the NCR that were among the top ten were led by Baguio City, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, Dasmariñas (Cavite), and Angeles (Pampanga).

The lower Tuesday on 05.25.2021

It’s been awhile that we’ve touched the 3K cases except for freaky Sunday when there was a system glitch. So from the close to 5K cases yesterday, the Health Agency reported 3,972 new cases today based on 13.1% positivity from tests done last May 23. Please remember that the positivity rate remains high (and therefore we are not testing enough as we plateau at this positivity rate). Total active cases are less than 50,000 (which is still a considerably large number although it looks nice using percentage at 4.1%).

In spite of the lower new deaths at 36 today, the total number of deaths has surpassed the 20K mark. Many analysts feel that globally, the total deaths are 2-3x higher than what is actually reported. The case fatality ratio for outcomes remains steady at 1.76%.

ICU utilization in both the NCR and nationally are slightly down today, which is a good sign for healthcare utilization. However, this general rule does not hold true for other smaller cities and municipalities that may be seeing heavier HCU than more urbanized areas.

While the national numbers are lower, the other good news is the significant decline seen in NCR for the day. The sad part is that CALABARZON continued to lead in number of cases by region for the day. Notice that the number of cases in the other regions outside of NCR plus bubble are significantly increasing with Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Western Visayas, Bicol Region, MIMAROPA, SOCCSKSARGEN and Davao Region taking the leap in the number of cases.

NCR saw 525 new cases with Quezon City accounting for close to 1/3 of all the cases in Mega Manila. All other LGUs in the national capital saw double digits and only 6 of the 17 cities in NCR were among the top twenty cities with most cases for the day.

On a provincial level Zamboanga del Sur and Palawan were among the top three for the day. The provincial data is highly reflective of the data on a city level where cities in these provinces are seeing dramatically increasing cases.

The great divide

I usually walk to the next door mall to pick up my take away lunch. Even during the sweltering mid-day sun, with those darn face shields glaring back at you and your breath warm because of the hot summer weather, I pick up my lunch from the mall to eat back at the clinic.

I rarely make conversation with anyone I meet along the way. A nod. A smile (under my mask). That is all the mechanical greeting I can spare for now. The pandemic has kept us all conscious on how we deal with people we meet, even under casual circumstances.

But this pandemic has changed more than just the way we meet and greet. It has upended lives completely and todays short story is about the very short conversation between the waiter and I. As I stopped to pick up lunch (and give him tip – God knows he needed it more than I did), he asked me discreetly, “sir, may alam ba kayo may opening na trabaho? Kahit na ano. Maglinis o mautusan ninyo?” That sentence alone took me by surprise. I had that shocked look in my eyes and told myself “damn, it’s really worse than we think”. Unfortunately, while I would like to help him more (aside from the tips I give to those who work in restaurants), all I could muster was, “sorry wala akong alam na puede ka. Mahirap talaga ngayon ano?” And he just nodded, gave me my salad, and I gave him his usual tip.

As I was walking back to the office, I noticed how many of the struggling stores had closed. How tepid the mobility was. The casualty of this pandemic were not only lives but livelihood as well. And for developing countries like ours, the daily wage earners were at the core of the nuclear bomb on our economy.

The rich would always have their ivory towers to look down from. There would be those who would blog, or vlog, their life stories on how they got COVID-19 and survived it. How they were able to isolate and swab families and friends after their gathering. How they were able to get hospital beds or have relatives who are doctors who are able to scavenge for rooms for them when there was no more room at the inn. How they were able to separate their families into various houses they own, with one family heading off to their 2 bedroom condominium and the other family to their rest house near the sea. At the end of the day, with all that moolah splashing around, they would tell you stories of how they became blessed with the distinction of being “covid survivors”.

And then there are those who have absolutely nothing left in life. Like the waiter in my encounter today, whose daily life is a battle in itself between the virus and putting food on the table. Between buying a face shield or spending for two eggs.

The decisions that the rich and poor make everyday are no-brainers. One decides on what vaccines to get or how to get them, the other decides on how to feed his family or even making ends meet. One decides on how many rooms the children can play in with the air-condition on during this scorching weather, the other decides on where to get the payment so that they can keep that single electric fan shared by the whole family running to stave off the heat. One decides on when can they go out of town to enjoy the warm waters on the beach, the other decides on when they can even go home to the provinces so that they can start life anew, away from the madding urban life. One decides on what Telehealth platform they can access to get in touch with their private physicians, the other will need to make do with whatever medicines they can access for now.

Life is never fair. Even during prepandemic days, the disparity of those who have versus those who don’t, has already been obvious. But the poor just strive harder to make ends meet, and are able to get by day to day. The pandemic, however, revealed the more obvious and uglier side of this great divide. The government’s response was sadly one that was discombobulated. Egos came ahead of logic and critical thinking. Experts were flying left and right and everyone had an opinion. While some gave more than they could, some stole more than what they could morally account for.

The community pantries will die a natural death. Resources will deplete itself. The “ayudas” will come to a stop and eventually haunt us. Vaccination roll out isn’t quick enough and how to get a jab is proving difficult for those belonging to class D and E especially when you need to book a slot online.

Over a year into the pandemic and the great divide between the rich and poor is more glaring than ever.

Less than 5K for 05.24.2021

I’m really not sure om whether the 4,973 new cases announced by the Health Agency today included already the unreported data from COVIDKaya yesterday. But I will take a good news any day of the week. Based on the May 22 reports, there were 12.8% positive for almost 50,000 tests done. This means that around 5,550 tested positive (but some of them may be repeat tests). There was no explanation provided by the Health Agency in today’s report regarding the data (unlike yesterday when they announced why the number of new cases suddenly decreased.)

There are now less than 50,000 active cases and with 39 new deaths reported, the case fatality ratio for outcomes remains steady at 1.76%.

It’s been quite awhile (on rare occasions) that another region overtakes the numbers in NCR. And today was that day. CALABARZON, a region south of Mega Manila that closely trails NCR in terms of daily new cases had more new cases than the imperial megapolis of the Philippines with 1,041 vs 1,034 new cases.

In the National Capital Region, Quezon City and Manila continued to lead the haul with triple digits. And on a national level, ten of 17 cities from NCR are among the top twenty cities with most cases in the county. The other half of the top cities outside of NCR include: Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, Bacoor City (Cavite) and Bacolod City (Negros Occidental), that are in the top ten.

Unusually low 3K plus cases on 05.23.2021 will haunt us the coming days

Of course, it is good to know that the Health Agency reported only 3,083 cases today. Notice that the report is based on 13% positivity rate from close to 43,000 tested on May 21. This means that more than 5,500 tested positive that day. There were only 3 laboratories (accounting for 4.1% of the tested patients) that were not included. Even on the presumption that there were repeat tests of some patients on May 21, it would impossible that more than 40% were repeat tests. The Health Agency notes in that the low cases today are due to update of COVIDKaya. Several data were not included in todays case bulletin and currently being handled by the COVIDKaya technical team. I think we should expect the additional cases in the coming days after the technical glitch in COVIDKaya is remedied.

In the meantime, enjoy the low numbers, including the low deaths reported. With 38 new deaths, the case fatality ratio based on outcomes for today is a tad lower at 1.76%. This will adjust itself when the unaccounted data is added the next few days.

ICU bed utilization is higher again in Mega Manila compared to the national census. Of the more than 50,000 active cases, almost 5% were moderate, severe or critical at the time of testing.

And how we wish that NCR would really see only 613 cases a day. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon, yet, so enjoy the granular data below based on the 3,083 cases reported for the day.

While Quezon City remained the top hauler on a national level, it saw half the cases it would normally see and there were only 9 of 17 LGUs in NCR that were in the top 20 cities with most cases. Shockingly, Davao City took second spot for the day (based on incomplete data provided by the DoH).

On a provincial level, the under count was most prominently in the NCR, CALABARZON and Central Luzon regions because suddenly Negros Occidental and Davao del Sur were ranked first and second for the day.

As of May 21, 2021, the PH had 40,047 additional cases and 896 additional deaths for the period May 15-21, 2021.

The period May 15-21 wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t as impressive as well. The national reproduction number stayed flat at 0.85, which means that while it is below 1.0, we may be plateauing at the 6k level. The past weeks (during the period of ECQ and MECQ) saw a continued decline of cases, while the past week saw a stabilization of cases within the 6K range. Even deaths were erratic as the week saw an uptick in total deaths compared to the past week.

Testing in the country was between 40-50K on a good day. In spite of this, we were testing less this week compared to the past weeks. However, the positivity rate plateaued again around the 13% mark.

While our Asian neighbors are seeing troublesome numbers as well, we need to work at improving the various policies on how the pandemic is being handled in the Philippines. There is a need to thoroughly review what has been written down in 2020 and utilize lockdowns only as a tool of last resort when addressing surges. Vaccinations will always be the major tool out of the pandemic and the government must shuck all other useless policies and address vaccine hesitancy in the country and work at vaccine accessibility for the lower socioeconomic class who have no access to digital enrollment and screening methods. Because the vaccines are purchased by the National Government, LGUs must avoid making it difficult for every Juan to get immunized. Inclusivity should be the guiding factor in any vaccine roll out program.