“It’s a genuine increase and its rate the trajectory is similar to the increase that we saw in Cebu City and in the northern provinces,” OCTA Research fellow Guido David said in English and Filipino during the Laging Handa press briefing yesterday. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file)
MANILA, Philippines — The OCTA Research Group has expressed concern over the surge of new COVID-19 cases observed in Metro Manila over the past week.
“It’s a genuine increase and its rate the trajectory is similar to the increase that we saw in Cebu City and in the northern provinces,” OCTA Research fellow Guido David said in English and Filipino during the Laging Handa press briefing yesterday.
“This is actually very concerning. For the past two days, we’ve been getting 900 new cases in Metro Manila. The last time we were getting 900 cases per day in Metro Manila was in October,” he noted.
If this trend continues, he warned, the average number of new cases per day in the region may reach 2,500 or more by the end of March, a situation that “could overwhelm the health care system.”
“That is concerning because this is the level that we saw in August,” David said, referring to the month when record-high cases were recorded in the country and in Metro Manila.
“This is why it is important that we curb it immediately. This is not a prediction, it is a forecast. That’s why we are saying that we should be careful so that we can bring down the cases,” he added.
According to David, public complacency may have contributed in the surge of new cases, although it is also possible that a different variant of the coronavirus is spreading.
“This is similar in the rate of infection in Cebu and Mountain Province,” he said. “We are not saying that we are sure that there is a new variant… but we are saying that there is a possibility that is why it’s spreading fast.”
OCTA has repeatedly urged the government to intensify its bio-surveillance efforts to determine if new variants are spreading in areas where surges of new cases have been recorded.
During the briefing, David also stressed the need for strict border restrictions between provinces to prevent the spread of the viral illness. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has recently approved uniform protocols for local travel in the country.
While local government units can still require travelers to undergo COVID-19 testing, the new policy stated that no traveler shall be required to undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the destination.
While they are not against travel, David said border controls must be strictly implemented at all times.
“That is a bit concerning because some areas are doing well and some areas are not,” he said. “We have to be careful about border controls because most of those that experience second wave or another increase was because they were not strict with border controls.” – Janvic Mateo
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