Metro Manila — Experts from OCTA Research said the rise in new COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region “has become a serious cause of concern” as the reproduction number in the area is estimated at 1.5 based on a seven-day average, higher than the national 1.2
In their March 1 Monitoring Report, OCTA noted a steep upward trend in Pasay, Quezon City, Manila, Makati, Malabon, Taguig, Parañaque, and Navotas.
“Valenzuela, Caloocan and Las Piñas had a smaller increase in new cases. In Pasay, Makati, Malabon and Navotas, the daily attack rate had exceeded 7 per 100,000, which classifies these LGUs as high risk areas according to DOH guidelines. Pasay had the highest daily attack rate at 21.75 per 100,000,” the report stated.
“The reproduction number in NCR appears to be on an increasing trend, because as infections become more widespread, reversing the spread of the virus becomes more difficult… Under the current trend, the number of new COVID-19 cases per day will increase from its current average daily value of 770 to 2,200 by the end of March 2021, unless the spread of the virus is curbed,” OCTA said. “The total number of cases in NCR will have increased to 280,000 by the end of March, from its current value of 234,754, an increase of 19%,” it added.
Under this scenario, OCTA said the total death toll in NCR would be at 5,700.
“Note that in the midst of the July-August 2020 surge in NCR, the average number of new daily cases in NCR on the first week of August was 2,280,” they said.
OCTA researchers also said, based on their analysis, they believe a surge in its early stages has already started in some LGUs in the region, and unlike past surges, the current one has spread quickly in a short amount of time.
“The increase in cases and the reproduction number indicates that the virus is already spreading exponentially in a number of LGUs in the region. While this still needs to be confirmed by genome sequencing, we believe that the surge may be driven by a new and more contagious variant that could overwhelm the region if left unabated in the next few weeks,” they said.
Meanwhile, OCTA said Cebu City still had the most number of new COVID-19 cases, averaging 209 per day for the past 7 days, however its upward trend has slowed down.
OCTA urges LGUs to intensify testing, tracing and isolation efforts, and to implement small, targeted lockdowns as well as stricter border controls.
OCTA experts also said they believe the increase in new cases are largely community transmissions that could have been made worse by increase in mobility, deteriorating compliance with minimum health standards by some, as well as the possible failure to enforce GCQ regulations.
OCTA appeals for the public to continue to follow minimum health standards, avoid crowded areas, and refrain from social gatherings.
“We also exhort the national and the local governments to strictly monitor and enforce compliance with minimum health standards… exhort the government to ensure the urgent but efficient deployment of vaccines in the next two weeks,” OCTA said.