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DOH says NCR remains to be low risk for COVID-19

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday maintained that the National Capital Region remains at low risk classification for COVID-19.

In an advisory, the DOH noted that while Metro Manila showed a positive two-week growth rate, its average daily attack rate (ADAR) is still below six at less than one case per 100,000 population.

"NCR would require at least 818 cases daily for two weeks to reach an ADAR of six cases per 100,000 population," the DOH said.

ADAR pertains to the incidence showing the average number of new cases in a period per 100,000 people.

It also said the region's healthcare utilization rate remains at low risk. However, infections are still expected at this stage of pandemic wherein most are asymptomatic, mild, or moderate.

According to the DOH, an area will be classified as moderate risk if it has a positive two-week growth rate and average daily attack rate of at least six average cases per day per 100,000 population.

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the NCR’s risk classification for COVID-19 has escalated from low risk to moderate risk based on their own metrics.

“Based on our metrics—this is our metrics and not necessarily the same as the one used by the Department of Health—Metro Manila has moved from low to moderate risk. That being said, again, moderate risk does not translate to an escalation of the alert level because we’re still looking at the healthcare utilization and it’s still very low at this time,” David said in a CNN Philippines interview.

David noted that NCR’s current ADAR is at 0.99 and may reach 1 by Thursday, June 16. Meanwhile, its reproduction number is “very high” at 1.56, and its weekly positivity rate also increased to 3.3%.

The healthcare utilization rate, however, is under the “very low” category at 23%, he added.

The Inter-Agency Task Force of Emerging Infectious Diseases had approved recommendations to place the NCR and other areas under Alert Level 1 from June 16 to June 30.

This despite the reported increases in the number of COVID-19 cases in the NCR and other locations in the past days. 

Despite this, David said OCTA supports the decision of IATF to maintain the Alert Level 1 status in NCR and several other places.

“The reason is that we are not projecting a big surge like what happened in January or even last year. We are projecting perhaps a few hundred cases at the peak of the surge in Metro Manila, which will not really affect the healthcare too much,” he said.

David projected that the “peak” of COVID-19 infections will reach by the end of June or first week of July, with 400 to 500 cases per day coming from NCR alone.

“It will be relatively mild in terms of the surge, but we also expect that the cases will somehow leak out to the other provinces as well eventually,” he added.

In a later tweet, however, David said the NCR remains at low risk based on the OCTA Research's metrics.

“The NCR remains at LOW RISK based on our metrics. We did not recommend an escalation of alert levels or lockdown,” David said.

“We hope the next administration will choose a Health Secretary who will be a champion for the Filipino people and not be an apologist,” he added.

The Philippines on Wednesday registered 256 new COVID-19 infections, which increased the active case tally also from 3,130 on Tuesday to 3,211. — RSJ, GMA News