Published October 12, 2020 11:35pm
Experts from the OCTA Research team revealed that the hotspots or areas that had the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks were Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Batangas, Laguna, Bulacan, Negros Occidental, and Iloilo.
In their latest monitoring report, the experts also urged the government to consider reimposing a stricter quarantine classification or implementing localized lockdowns in Bauan in Batangas, Calbayog in Western Samar, and General Trias in Cavite.
The tightening of restrictions in three areas was recommended due to the increasing daily attack rate of COVID-19 in the past two weeks.
The daily attack rate per 1,000 people in Bauan rose from 6.2% on October 4 to 11.9% on October 11, in Calbayog from 5.1% to 8%, and in General Trias from 4.9% to 7.6%.
The attack rate refers to the number of new cases per day relative to the population.
The experts explained that German protocols recommend a stricter quarantine “if there is an increase in new cases for two weeks and the daily attack rate is greater than 7% per 1,000 (equivalent to 50 new cases per week per 100,000 population).”
They also suggested stricter restrictions in areas with limited hospital capacity or hospital occupancy rates higher than 70%.
The experts also observed two weeks of increasing daily attack rate in Iloilo City, Lucena, Batangas City, Silay, Dasmariñas, Olongapo, Bocaue, Meycauayan, and Kabankalan.
As to the hotspots with observed “uptick” in the number of new cases, the research team recommended that: “Given the analysis of attack rates in the NCR and other cities and municipalities around the country, we urge the national and local government to intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation to reverse the increase of transmissions in these local government units.”
Despite the increasing daily attack rates in certain areas, the experts said the Philippines has managed to sustain the downward trend of new infections.
In Metro Manila, the country’s COVID-19 epicenter, the number of new cases per day has fallen below 1,000.
“But these positive trends are not irreversible and significant efforts have to be undertaken by all stakeholders to sustain it,” the researchers said.
The Philippines has tallied 342,816 COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon, the 18th highest worldwide.
Reviving the economy
The experts also urged the government to carefully study proposals to resume or expand certain socio-economic activities “to ensure that these will not contribute to further transmission of the virus.”
The government’s inter-agency COVID-19 task force earlier said it supported the further reopening of the economy amid the pandemic.
“The reality of a surge in viral transmissions will not be a question of if but of when and by how much. It is in this light that we reiterate the urgent need for [the] government to scale up capacities of our healthcare system,” the researchers said.
The OCTA Research team is an independent and interdisciplinary group composed of experts from various institutions, including the University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas.—LDF, GMA News