Hopefully, the glitches have been fixed, as the backlogs have somehow are being addressed.
The Health Agency reports 21,411 new cases today and with more than 25,000 recoveries, the active cases are down to around 182,000.
More than 78,000 tests (the highest number of daily tests) were done last September 10 still showed 27% positive rate. Way above the acceptable positive rate.
ICU utilization rate is now close to 80% in the NCR and at 77% nationally.
There are 168 new deaths reported today. The case fatality ratio for outcomes is at 1.72%.
With the technical glitches addressed (that is my presumption), the NCR average trend is back to 26-27% with the 5,619 cases today. Other regions with quadruple digits are CALABARZON, Central Luzon and Ilocos Region. All other regions reported triple digits.
The provinces of Cavite and Laguna led with four digits on a provincial level.
Among LGUs, 12 of 17 LGUs in NCR were in the top twenty with Quezon City leading with quadruple numbers. 3 LGUs in Cavite were also in the top 20 list.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW
The Philippines finished the week with a day in the top 4 countries in the world with most COVID-19 cases. In a nation where the face shield is the symbol of managing this pandemic, the daily numbers do not reflect the actual cases we are seeing daily. And here is why.
The World Health Organization pegs 5% as the acceptable positivity rate. Between 5-10%, is still manageable. But notice that we have never looked back to even <10% positivity rate since March 2021. Today, we have eclipsed all records and the 7-day average for positive stands at more than 25% or 1 in every 4 people tested, testing positive. Although we have had more tests done in this surge compared to the last one in March/April, it isn’t enough. Which means that most likely only those with symptoms or hospitalized end up being tested. With cases this high, the only way we can bring down the positive rate is to do good contact tracing. The total number to test to bring the positive rate to ~10%? At least 250,000 – 300,000 per day. An impossible feat considering that more than half of all testing facilities are in NCR plus.
CASES AND DEATHS
We have not peaked yet. As of September 11, 2021, the 7-day average is 20,722 new cases daily. With a national R still >1.0, there will be a continued rise in daily cases, but managing to slow down, based on the data being churned by the Health Agency. Remember, all these data do not come from thin air. They come from the Data Drop of the the COVID19 tracker of the Department of Health. We are still in an upward trajectory. And the densest regions and provinces are taking the brunt of the outbreak.
The new cases include breakthrough infections. While the Food and Drug Authority reports that only a small percentage are attributable to breakthrough infections, the data on the ground do not seem to point to that. That is because many of have been vaccinated, develop symptoms and get tested, are either asymptomatic or mild. Breakthrough infections, like other countries are under reported.
The deaths are lower, which may be a good sign because of having many of those living in the more dense areas of the country vaccinated. It may, however, also mean that because deaths are late reports, we are not seeing the actual picture for now. The course of illness of those that are severe and critical may take a longer course. When the cases begin to decline, the true picture of deaths will be revealed.
HOW ARE WE FARING WITH OTHER SELECT ASIAN COUNTRIES
Compared to other countries, the Philippines now ranks number 1 among other ASEAN nations and is second to India in the whole of Asia in terms of daily new cases. All other countries that are in the midst of the delta crisis are seeing a decline in cases. Singapore, a country with less than 6M people is seeing an increase in cases but is at the lower end because of their population size.
THE REPRODUCTION NUMBER
While the Philippines may have the highest daily cases, it is Singapore that leads among countries with the highest reproduction number. The R of the PH is lower this week at 1.10 compared to last week at 1.2. This does not mean that there is a decline in cases. It only means that we have plateaued at a certain average and have not peaked yet. The daily numbers are slowing down and not significantly increasing. The data, however, should be taken with the perspective of the high positive rate. This means that whatever numbers we are seeing, are most likely higher if more testing and tracing were done.
VACCINATION AND DELTA
The IATF reports that almost 50% of the eligible adults in the National Capital Region have been vaccinated (either with one or two doses). With the variability of vaccine efficacy on which vaccine was rolled out and when they were vaccinated (many frontliners receiving Sinovac over 6 months ago), the question on boosters is now up in the air. Many of the neighboring countries where the Delta variant is the predominant serotype, have started providing “boosters” to frontliners who are at highest risk of breakthrough infections due to the natural hazard of their work. While the total number of vaccinated (whether fully or partially) is at over 17% in the country (as of this report), the government should work quicker in order to allow access of more vaccines sans red tape so that they can rationalize reopening the economy. After all, the virus is not specific to Mega Manila alone. The whole country especially the workforce should be the priority. For those that can afford to purchase the vaccines, this should be allowed particularly with vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech which already has full authorization in the country of origin (USA). This will solve the inequity issue in the country, where those who can afford to buy the vaccine can purchase it on their own.