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NCR COVID-19 cases up by 47% from previous week —Duque

Metro Manila saw a nearly 50-percent increase in new COVID-19 cases this week compared to the week before, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday.

“Dito sa NCR, tumaas tayo ng mga 47% itong linggong ito compared doon sa nakaraang linggo (Here in the National Capital Region, our cases increased by 47% this week compared to the previous week),” he said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Duque said Metro Manila posted “a little over 900” new cases per day in the past week.

The health chief urged “aggressive” case finding, testing, and contact tracing, among other efforts, to stem COVID-19 transmission.

“Dapat ito ay wake-up call sa ating mga pamahalaang lokal na talagang i-intensify, paigtingin, palawigin ang lahat ng ating mga tukoy na istratehiya (This should be a wake up call to our local governments to really intensify all our strategies),” he said.

'Circuit-breaker' lockdown

The OCTA Research group on Tuesday recommended a 'circuit-breaker' lockdown in the NCR, after noting a rise in the reproduction rate of the virus in the region.

During the Laging Handa briefing, Dr. Guido David said the reproduction number of NCR has climbed to 1.33. A reproduction number of one or higher is an indication of the continuous transmission of the virus.

“[Ang suggestion] ng OCTA, we should adopt what Australia and New Zealand are doing now, which is basically, go early and go hard,” Professor Ranjit Rye, meanwhile, said.

“Ibig sabihin, mayroon tayong anticipatory, preventive, circuit [-breaker] lockdowns po na ang tingin namin, kung gagawin natin ito over the next two weeks,” he added.

(This means we have anticipatory, preventive, circuit [-breaker] lockdowns if we will do this over the next two weeks.)

Duque agreed with the recommendation of the OCTA Research group to implement “circuit breakers” amid the local transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant

He added, however, that such measures still need to be discussed by medical experts and the government’s inter-agency COVID-19 task force, which will convene on Tuesday.

The Philippines has so far recorded 119 Delta variant cases, only 12 of which remain active. 

Duque said community transmission of the new variant still needs to be established but reiterated that it was better to assume ongoing widespread transmission. 

The government earlier tightened restrictions in Metro Manila, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Davao del Norte, and Davao de Oro amid the threat of the Delta variant.

Metro Manila is under general community quarantine "with heightened restrictions" from July 23 to 31.

The Philippines’ tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 1,555,396 on Monday after the Department of Health DOH reported 6,664 new infections.

Of this number, 1,473,009 recovered, 27,247 died, while 55,140 are active. —KG, GMA News