The Health Agency reports 1712 new cases based on 28,500 tests with 8.8% positivity (up from a previous of 7.9%) on February 18. Active cases drop to a little more than 60K with 92.4% being asymptomatic or mild at the time of testing. Of the cases reported today, 94% of them occurred in the recent two weeks (I do not know why the agency keeps counting a two weeks look back since the days for isolation, quarantine and recovery have been modified already). NCR, CALABARZON and Western Visayas led in the cases.
Of the 77 deaths, 2/3 occurred in February 2022 while 26% in January. In short 92% of the deaths reported today are recent, with the remaining occurring September and October of last year.
There were 100 duplicated removed from the total case count with 95 recoveries.
There were also 70 cases previously tagged as recoveries but were in fact deaths.
The NCR continued to account for the highest share of cases in the Philippines as it has 369 (22%) cases today. This is followed by a distant second by CALABARZON (233). Others with triple digits were: Western Visayas (184), Central Visayas (163), Central Luzon (136) and Davao Region (113).
The City of Manila led the NCR with triple digits – 100 cases. No other LGU had more than 50 cases in Mega Manila. Six LGUs recorded single digit – Malabon (7), Muntinlupa (8), Marikina (6), Navotas (1), San Juan (1), and Pateros broke its ZERO COVID streak with 2 cases today.
Cases in LGUs in the province started to dwindle as well with no LGU reporting more than 50 cases.
OCTA RESEARCH MONITORING REPORT
Prof. Guido David has provided the latest infographic on the situation in the top Highly Urbanized Cities (HUCs) in the Philippines as of February 19, 2022.
The good news is that there is a continued decline in growth rate, but the National Capital Region (or Mega Manila) has slowed down in its decline. The ADAR and positivity rate in the NCR is at moderate risk (but has dropped from 8 to 6% this week). The city of Lucena in Quezon Province has the lowest overall risk, with an ADAR <1.0, Rt of 0.13, HCUR of 15% and positivity of 3%.
While the overall Rt is now very low (<0.5), the positivity rate is troubling because this may imply that the lowering numbers are ‘artificial’ due to non-testing. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you don’t test, then you won’t have cases. Notice that there are cities that have positivity at moderate risk and it’s mind boggling that there are still cities that have staggeringly high positivity rates including General Santos, Iligan, Naga, Ormoc and Puerto Princesa. These areas are not targeting the people that need to get tested or are not testing enough. While their numbers may be low, it’s because they are not testing and not testing means, there is not reporting as well.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW
The Philippines continues its declining cases, moving down to 20th or lower rank in Asian and 60th or lower rank in the world, as the omicron wave hits the global community.
The decline, however, was not a dramatic as two weeks ago as the positivity rate remains in moderate risk (and as pointed out above may be artificially driven because of under testing. The phenomenon of under testing and less surveillance is noted GLOBALLY and not limited to the country alone.)
The death rates are erratic as the DoH struggles with backlogs from the past year. Death will always be a lagging indicator, in the same way hospitalization is.
In Asia, South Korea overtakes Japan to take the lead with past 100K cases yesterday. Notice that the infographic below shows the number of new cases based on a 7-day rolling average. Most Asian countries are seeing record highs, especially those that have never experienced surges from variants of concern in the past. This includes the tiny country of Singapore and the semi-autonomous nation Hong Kong.
On a per capital (based on cases per 1 million population), Singapore by far takes the lead with 2670 cases per million population, while the Philippines has the least with 23 per million people. There are actually more cases figuratively and mathematically in Hong Kong than the Philippines.
There should be some respite from the Omicron surge in all these Asian neighbors soon. The effective reproduction rate for countries like Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines has significantly stabilized. Meaning, the current cases in Japan, for example, will most likely continue a slow downward trajectory the next week and continue this decline in the next 3 weeks. Indonesia saw rapid decline after 2 weeks of increase with Rt now at 0.86. The Philippines has the lowest Rt at 0.49, meaning this will provide more room for continued decrease in cases being reported in the last week of February 2022, in spite of the moderate risk positivity rate (which is also slowly decreasing in general).