Lowering cases and the data for 01.31.2022

Tomorrow, NCR and 7 other areas in the Philippines shift to Alert Level 2.

The Health Agency reports 14,546 new cases based on 52,013 tests with a positivity rate of 28.4% done last January 29. With more recoveries than active cases, the active cases drop to around 190,000 – 97.4% of who are asymptomatic or mild.

Healthcare utilization is now at low risk nationally and in the NCR (however, caution should be provided in interpreting this as applicable to every LGU as there may be some areas seeing high HCUR particularly in places that have lower vaccination coverage).

There are 112 deaths added today.

In a dramatic twist of numbers (with many backlogs from different areas), the NCR bounces back to lead with 4040 cases or 27% of the total numbers for the day. This is led by the City of Manila that has 861 cases and is the highest among all LGUs in the country. A close second is Quezon City with 838 new cases followed by Makati 334, Parañaque 263, Caloocan 240, Taguig 219 and Pasig 218. All other LGUs report less than 200 cases with a sprinkling reporting double digits. None had single digit numbers today.

Outside of NCR, only 4 regions had four digit numbers: CALABARZON 1644, Davao Region 1401 (with Davao City having 722 cases and is third highest among LGUs in the country for today), Central Luzon 1152, and Central Visayas 1029.

The shift in tide back to NCR the past days is bothersome as Mega Manila’s negative trend has flattened and there is no continuing sustained downtrend. Will shifting to Alert Level 2 in the midst of these high numbers be worth it so that we can celebrate the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day?

We will know after 2-4 weeks.

The omicron surge in Asia and the data for 01.30.2022

The weekend closes with late data coming in from the Health Agency with 16,953 new cases. Back in the previous surges, these numbers would have been catastrophic equivalent to ECQ or MECQ category. I recall back in March 2020, when we had only a handful of COVID-19 cases, the NCR was in total lockdown for 3 months. Now, with even 3000 cases in NCR, the government has declared Alert Level 2 just in time for the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.

Today’s cases are based on more than 56,000 tests with a positivity rate of 31.4%, the latter being dragged due to the lower testing in the provinces outside of NCR. With more recoveries than cases, the active cases now drop to a little above 202,000.

Health care utilization in general is at low risk (but that is not true in many provinces because vaccination rate in other areas is still way below the target).

There are 20 added deaths today.

NCR led todays count with 2008 cases or 12% of the total shares in the country. Quezon City had 391 cases while the City of Manila came in second with 298. All other LGUs had less than 200 cases with 8 LGUs reporting double digits and Pateros reporting only 4 cases.

Outside of NCR, Region 6 led with most cases at 2003 followed by CALABARZON 1913, Davao Region 1466, Northern Mindanao 1224, Central Visayas 1202, Central Luzon 1056, and Ilocos Region 1040.

Among all LGUs in the country, Davao City had the most cases with 650.

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From Prof. Guido David (OCTA Research), the risk levels for NCR and CALABARZON shows the rapid decline in the weekly cases as the ADAR dips as well. Notice that the positivity rate is much lever than the national average of 33.3% in NCR, Batangas, Cavite and Rizal. The drivers of testing include: number of testing facilities and the financial capacity of the people in the area. In addition, because of the mild presentation of majority of patients with Omicron, many forego testing and simply wait out the clinical symptoms. The positivity rate in Laguna is highest in these regions.

Reproduction rate is also lowest in NCR, while Healthcare utilization rate is low in all these areas.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

We continue to track the pandemic in the Asian region and the one week interval has dramatically changed the landscape of an omicron surge.

In the Philippines, as the needle rise of cases, the 7-day average of cases drop to 22000. While this is an under report (the country only counts cases with RT-PCR results from accredited laboratories, while Rapid Antigen Tests both self tested and laboratory or healthcare performed are not included), it represents a good sampling size of the graph of the surge.

The Department of Health has also confirmed that the National Capital Region plus (CALABARZON and Central Luzon) is seeing a marked decline in cases and the cases have now shifted to the provinces and other regions outside of these regions. More than 50% of testing facilities are located in these three regions alone. Which means that we may not be seeing the actual numbers of COVID-19 outside of NCR plus because of much lower testing (see infographic of OCTA Summary above).

Deaths are late reports and while backlogs come in, the Philippines reports a 7-day average of 70 deaths, lower than the delta surge, but nevertheless still high because of the low vaccination in regions outside of NCR and Highly Urbanized Cities (HCUs) where the vaccine roll out is more organized and where vaccine acceptance is higher.

The reproduction rate of the Philippines is down to 0.92 (+/- 0.05). This means that the numbers have plateaued and we will continue to see a declining trend in the week to come. Hopefully, the government did not make a rash decision in transitioning to Alert Level 2 very quickly in NCR plus. Remember, the cases reported still have a very high positivity rate (>20%) because people are not testing anymore (or even if they are are not being counted because only RT-PCR results are counted by the government). This free-for-all concept may not capture the real number of cases in the epicenter of the Philippines, and is estimated to be even 8-10x the actual numbers reported by the government.

Of course, the argument there can be that with the shortened mild course of omicron, the decline in cases is also as rapid as its increase and before the PCR results are out, majority the cases would have recovered.

Compared to the other countries in Southeast Asia and select Asian nations (Japan and South Korea), the Reproduction rate is highest in Indonesia, followed by Singapore, South Korea and Japan for this week. These countries are seeing the nth wave (for example Japan is in its 5th wave) and, except for Indonesia, are seeing the highest numbers in the pandemic. With the Rt of Indonesia now at 2.33, the country prepares for an estimated 100,000 daily cases in the next week or two.

As reference, based on population size (per capita), it is Singapore that has an overwhelming number of cases at 807 followed by Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Indonesia is at 20 per million population (>11,000 new daily cases) and at the bottom of the list, mainly due the sheer size of the people in the 4th most populous nation in the world.

How the upcoming week eventually evolves with the Chinese New Year on February 1 will be an interesting development particularly in Asia, where this is a major celebration .

Plateauing and the data for 01.29.2022

While the world continues to average more than 3M daily cases, the Philippine numbers continue to plateau between 16,000-19,000 cases with the Health Agency announcing 17,382 new cases today from 56447 tests done and a positivity rate of 33.3% (or exactly 1 in every 3 being tested as testing positive).

Remember, these are still high case numbers considering that majority of them are coming from the provinces. A word of advice, if you are in NCR, avoid traveling to the provinces for now as testing in the provinces is extremely low (very high positivity rate in provincial areas due to lack of testing laboratories and many people do not even test because the symptoms are mostly mild).

Active cases are lower at 213,587 with close to 98% of them being mild or asymptomatic.

Health care utilization is at less than 50% in both the NCR and nationally.

There are 70 additional deaths today.

NCR grabs top spot and an increase in the total shares for the day with 3625 cases (20% of national total). Several LGUs had spike in cases with Quezon City leading with 688. City of Manila had 479, Parañaque 371, Makati with 328, Pasig 255, Las Piñas 247, Taguig 243, and Pasay City 218. All other LGUs in NCR report less than 200 cases, while Pateros is the lone LGU with single digit – 6 cases.

Outside of NCR, CALABARZON came in second with 2265 followed by Central Luzon with 1455 cases. Central Visayas had 1392, Davao Region 1362 (with Davao City recording 793 of the cases and the highest among all LGUs in the country for the day), and Ilocos Region with 1293. Other provinces saw less than 1000 cases but many continue to record more than 500 cases in spite of the very low testing and the high positivity rate (>50%) in these regions. This emphasizes that many individuals, especially in the provinces, are not testing anymore. It would be prudent if those from NCR avoided going to the provinces for awhile.

Are we plateauing (?) and the data for 01.28.2022

As the positivity rate remains relatively flat at 34.6% today from 62,671 tests done last January 26, the Health Agency announces 18,638 new cases. The past days has seen a declining trend of cases for the National Capital Region and the contiguous areas of CALABARZON and Central Luzon. However, this is being offset by increasing cases in the provinces. Unfortunately, because the bulk of testing facilities are in NCR plus, the positivity rate remains high nationally because we are under testing and it is highly likely that people in the provinces are not alarmed at the clinical presentation of Omicron.

With fewer recoveries than cases, the active cases are at a little more than 231,000 with close to 98% of them being asymptomatic. ICU utilization rate is at low risk both nationally and in Mega Manila.

There are 68 deaths added today.

CALABARZON led once more the numbers for the day with 2439 cases followed by the NCR with 2256. In NCR, Quezon City had 421 cases while Manila has 265. All the rest of the LGUs reported less than 200 cases with some reporting double digit numbers.

Other regions outside of NCR and CALABARZON that saw four digits were: Western Visayas 1981, Central Visayas 1959 (Cebu City owned 529 of the cases), Davao Region 1933 (Davao City owned 1114 of the cases and had the highest number of cases in any LGU in the country), Central Luzon 1446, and Northern Mindanao 1214.

There are 106 ROFs reported as positive today.

As cases in NCR plus decline, offsetting by the provinces is the challenge and the data for 01.27.2022

The past 7 days, the NCR accounted for 15-17% of the total daily cases in the Philippines. That’s a large decline from what began as a 70-75% share of the national cases.

As the NCR (plus) see declining cases, the national cases ease a bit as well, since majority of tests and cases are from the NCR plus.

Today, the Health Agency announces 18,191 new cases based on more than 61,000 tests done with a positivity rate of 35.2% last January 25. As more recoveries are noted, the active cases are down to 226,521 with close to 98% being asymptomatic or mild.

Health care utilization in the NCR is at low risk, while it is at very low moderate risk nationally.

There are 74 deaths added today.

The good news is that the cases in NCR continue to decline with 2270 (12.5%) today. Quezon City led with 467 cases, but only 3 other LGUs in Mega Manila had more than 200 cases: City of Manila 255, Parañaque 225, and Makati 212. The rest has either less than that while several LGUs report double digit numbers.

Outside of NCR, even CALABARZON and Central Luzon are seeing a quick decline in cases, with Region IVA reporting 2162 and Region III 1477 cases today.

Elsewhere in the Philippines, the regions with four digit cases are now led by Davao Region 2022 (1054 in Davao City alone), Western Visayas 1634, Central Visayas 1541 (455 in Cebu City), CAR 1095, and Ilocos Region with 1136 cases. The data shows that the positivity rate is still high, not because of the NCR, but because there is lack of testing laboratories outside of the NCR plus and the fact that many of the presentation of the patients are mild (or even asymptomatic), there are quite a chunk that are most likely not being tested in the provinces.

15789 cases, 35.8% positivity, more recoveries and the data for 01.26.2022

With the NCR and Regions IVA and III seeing lower cases, the Health Agency announces 15,789 new cases based on 48,725 tests with 35.8% positivity last January 24. As more recoveries are announced, the number of active cases drop to 230,000. Close to 98% of the active cases are mild or asymptomatic.

Healthcare utilization in NCR is now at low risk as the numbers continue to slide, while it remains at over-all moderate risk in the country.

There are 66 deaths announced today.

CALABARZON continued its second day streak with most number of cases today with 2461. This was followed by NCR with 2455 (15.5%) cases. In Mega Manila, Quezon City kept the lead with 452 cases followed by Parañaque 294, Manila 271, Makati 244 and Pasig 201. All other LGUs had less than 200 cases.

Among all LGUs in the country, Davao City led with 570 cases or >50% of the 1031 cases in Davao Region.

Regions outside NCR and CALABARZON with four digits are: Central Luzon 1335, Western Visayas 1366, Central Visayas 1557, and Davao Region.

Among the ROFs (returning overseas Filipinos), 62 were reported to have COVID19.

The low Tuesday and the data for 01.25.2022

It’s been awhile since we tread less than 20,000.

The Health Agency announces 17,677 new cases based on a little more than 43,000 tests with a positivity rate of 37.2% last January 23. With more than 33,000 recoveries, the active cases drop to less than 250,000 with more than 98% of them being mild of asymptomatic.

Healthcare utilization is still at moderate risk but in the NCR, the ICU rate and ward beds are much lower than the previous week.

The national data is being pushed down by the drop in cases in NCR plus (CALABARZON and Central Luzon) and remains volatile as the regions outside of these areas continue to see rising numbers. Testing with RT-PCR may likely be more delayed because there are less testing facilities outside of Mega Manila.

There are 79 added deaths today.

CALABARZON reported 2770 new cases today, eking out NCR from the lead, as Mega Manila had 2751 cases. No LGU in NCR reported 4 digit numbers today, which was led by Quezon City with 648 cases followed by Manila 312, Makati 289, and Parañaque with 224. Pateros reported only 5 new cases!

Outside of CALABARZON and NCR, Central Luzon had 2297 cases. Three other regions reported 4 digits: Western Visayas 1350, Central Visayas 1318 and Davao Region 1112. All other regions reported triple digits with MIMAROPA reporting the least at 171 cases.

There were 107 ROFs who were included in todays numbers.

How NCR plus affects the surge and the data for 01.24.2022

The Health Agency announces 24,938 new cases today based on a little less than 60,000 cases with a positivity rate of 40.6% on January 22. With more recoveries, the active cases drop to around 262,000 with more than 98% of them being asymptomatic or mild at the time of diagnosis.

Health care utilization remains moderate risk but at much lower levels than the last two weeks.

The lower positivity rate and lower health care utilization is due to the lower cases now in the National Capital Region (including CALABARZON and Central Luzon). This also accounts for the drop in positivity rate as the cases begin to recede in the epicenter. However, the rise of cases in the provinces continue and with less testing capacity and financial capability, there may be some disconnection in the testing and positivity rate in these areas. For now, we remain blind to the situation as the Department of Health has not had a regular daily data drop since January 15, 2022. Hopefully, as more people recover from quarantine or isolation status in the Health Agency, we will soon see more realistic numbers to make better projections.

There are 47 added deaths today.

The NCR reports 4018 of the close to 25000 cases – or 16% of the cases in the country. Quezon City continued to lead the haul with 1030 cases but it was the cities of Las Piñas 353 and Muntinlupa 352 cases that came in second and third. Manila continued to see a dramatic decline in cases with 333 only reported today.

Outside of NCR, CALABARZON had 3469 and Central Luzon 2265 cases. NCR plus own less than 38% of the cases in the country.

Those seeing four digit numbers outside of NCR plus for the day are: CAR 1312, Ilocos Region 1938, Cagayan Valley 1632, Western Visayas 1501, Central Visayas 2588, Northern Mindanao 1012 and Davao Region 2292.

There are 104 ROFs that had positive results today.

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Outside of NCR, the following provinces have the highest levels of risk based on ADAR. Note that NCR, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan are seeing negative one-week growth rates, but other provinces are seeing tremendous increases. Highest ADAR is Benguet with >101 per 100,000 population.

NCR and some contiguous provinces annexed to it saw the rise in their cases towards the end of December and spiked disproportionately at the start of the year. As the numbers gradually ease, the other provinces are now experiencing the same phenomenon.

Past 3.4M, the week in review and the data for 01.23.2022

The Health Agency reports 29,929 new cases based on 69,014 tests with a positivity rate of 41.8% last January 21. With more recoveries than active cases reported today, the active cases slide a little lower to 273,580 with more than 98% of them being mild.

Overall health care utilization is at moderate risk, noticeably lower in the National Capital Region than the national data.

There are 67 deaths added today.

NCR reported 5433 new cases today or 18.2% of the total cases in the country as the other provinces are seeing rapid increases in cases. Quezon City owned 1015 of the case and was the only LGU in NCR reporting quadruple numbers. The City of Manila had the most dramatic drop in this surge and reported only 483 cases today. Of 17 LGUs, Muntinlupa City owned 8.4% of the total share with 444 cases and is one of the LGUs with high ADAR and Rt when compared to other LGUs in NCR.

CALABARZON had 4317 and Central Luzon 2820 cases. Their cases, while in the 4-digits are slowing down like NCR.

Everywhere else, the numbers are up with Western Visayas 2573, Davao Region 2572, Central Visayas 2501, CAR 1911, Northern Mindanao 1144, and Ilocos Region 1021.

Davao City led among all LGUs with most cases in the Philippines for the day with 1831 cases or 71.2% of the total cases in Davao Region alone.

143 ROFs (returning Overseas Filipinos) were reported positive today.

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From Prof. Guido David, the highly urbanized cities in the Philippines with the highest cases are in the infographic provided below. Notice that all have positive growth over the past week, except for NCR which is seeing a negative decline in cases. (However, there are some LGUs in the NCR that remain at higher risk than others.) The Rt for NCR is now at high risk of 1.20 from a previous severe, while all other HUCs are at very high. The ADAR in Baguio City and Iloilo City is classified as severe risk. The ADAR in Mega Manila is now downgraded to very high risk from a previous severe the day before.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

The numbers in the Philippines continue to pass the 30,000 mark. While the total cases in the epicenter, the National Capital Region slow down significantly, this nation of more than 7,600 islands is seeing higher cases outside of NCR and is offsetting the gains in Mega Manila.

Notice that there is a slight downward trend, but not enough to say that the whole country has peaked. Local data above from OCTA Research shows that only the National Capital Region has slowed down in the Omicron surge, while the other provinces are seeing rising cases. Tests and positivity remain very high. As a matter of fact, positivity rate yesterday was at past 45% in the Philippines. This is disturbing because this can only mean that there are more cases, people may be testing (with rapid antigen) but the data is not being recorded by the Health Agency as the latter only records RT-PCR results.

However, the Rt is down to 1.31 from a previous high of >4.0 at the first week of the year.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the Rt of Indonesia is up at 1.76, and while it still is seeing relatively lower cases than other countries in the region, the data shows a trend towards an uptick in cases as it continued to report four digits over the past week, with 3,205 new cases yesterday. With the R continuing in an upward trajectory, as it braces for an Omicron surge. We need to monitor for this ongoing development in the fourth most populous nation in the world.

Singapore has the most cases per capita in the region, followed by the Philippines and Vietnam.

Around other Asian countries, it is Japan that is seeing a huge rise in cases as the R jumps past 2 and the number of cases came close to a record high of almost 50,000 cases yesterday. The prefecture of Tokyo, the most populous city in Japan reported a record of more than 11,000 cases in a single day yesterday, as the country of the rising sun struggles with the Omicron surge as well.

The war against Facebook

For those, who like me, share vetted information prior to posting, I find it biased on the side of Facebook bots and AI (well so much for artificial intelligence) to just provide punitive action on those that share valid and truthful information on their social media platform.

My recent tiff with Facebook was irritating. While it is a platform that allows a wider range of audience, many of the audiences, I have difficulty in filtering out those who are trolls and want to be ‘friends’ when they are not anywhere in my circle of ‘friends’.

The latest information dissed that was deleted by FB was related to the published article from https://www.science.org. The article, entitled ‘In rare cases coronavirus vaccines may cause Long Covid-like symptoms’ was flagged as FALSE INFORMATION. https://www.science.org/content/article/rare-cases-coronavirus-vaccines-may-cause-long-covid-symptoms?campaign_id=154&emc=edit_cb_20220121&instance_id=51008&nl=coronavirus-briefing&regi_id=93550402&segment_id=80443&te=1&user_id=b3e6cc78c87b77f94dea36964a9aa6a9

It’s actually an excellent read as I have had some people who have been vaccinated with mRNA vaccines and have had symptoms similar to Long-Covid. This article is careful in saying that it DOES NOT imply that vaccines are harmful, but advice regulators and manufacturers to make sure that these new vaccines, which have seen short and early clinical trials with no long term information, be judiciously monitored.

While advocates may think that this kind of information will throw off people into getting vaccinated, the intent of the article is to shed light into the other side of the spectrum. The unknown world of adverse events. After all, everyone in the scientific world knows that there is no such thing as a drug without a side effect.

The benefit risk of a vaccine, biological agent or even antiviral should be weighed with its purported risks because in the realm of medicine (and not the world of social media) – we must first DO NO HARM.

It is ironic for FB to call out this post as FALSE INFORMATION but refuses to flag in its own marketplace or posts of online sellers on fake and counterfeit medicines. It does not take a lot of AI to flag sales of prescription medicines. The law does not allow the sale of any prescription drug online. What more medicines or vaccines that have only Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval! FB administrators do not have to go far in looking for what can and what cannot be vetted by bots or whatever intelligence they have left.

They also cannot say that the reviews are taking time because they have less people doing the review at a time of a pandemic. It is important to remember that when you take out relevant information and tag it as false wrongly and quickly, you must also be able to defend from your end why it was false. The onus does not lie in the one who posted the vetted information, but on the social media platform that claimed and tagged it as a false one.

While it is true that all social media platforms are free – and you are free to join or leave – there is a level of accountability by both the ones who post and those who provide this platform.

That accountability applies to Facebook as well.

The owner is just as liable as the user.