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COVID-19 cases in the Philippines decreasing —UP experts

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has been decreasing, according to the University of the Philippines OCTA Research team.

In its report dated October 6, an advance copy of which has been provided to GMA News, the team said the country's reproduction number, which describes the reproduction of COVID-19 cases, has kept its downward trend.

“The number of cases in the Philippines has been decreasing, and currently at less around 2,500 new cases per day (based on case reports),” the OCTA Research team said.

This is lower compared to the almost 4,000 new cases per day recorded during the last week of August.

“The reproduction number in the Philippines is 0.87, in line with the downward trend in test reports,” it added. A reproduction number below 1 means a flattened curve, according to the experts.

Based on the report, these findings were based on the daily reports of COVID-19 cases in the country from August 25 to October 5.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region, the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, also decreased to less than 1,000 new cases per day, the team said.

Like in nationwide setting, the reproduction number in the region remained below 1 at 0.82 during the same period.

The positivity rate for NCR decreased now to 8% from the 14% recorded during the end of August. This is still above the World Health Organization (WHO) ideal rate of 5%, the OCTA Research team noted.

“Based on available data, the value of R for the entire Philippines and in the NCR has been on a decelerating trend,” the experts said.

According to the team, the situation in the NCR improved as the rate of transmission, the number of cases, and the positivity rate are all on a downward trend.

However, Professor Guido David said the downward trend has been uneven throughout the country.

“Mahirap pa masabi (kung nafa-flatten na ‘yong curve) kasi uneven ‘yong trend,” he said in an interview on GMA News TV’s Balitanghali.

“Sa ngayon kasi ‘yong decreasing trend sa Metro Manila, naka-on the way to flattening na tayo of the curve sa NCR pero sa buong bansa, hangga’t may tumataas na kaso, ‘di natin masasabing nafa-flatten natin,” he added.

David said COVID-19 cases in select areas such as Davao del Sur, Iloilo, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Surigao del Sur, Western Samar, Zamboanga del Sur, Benguet, Baguio City, Nueva Ecija, Quezon and Pangasinan are still increasing.

“‘Yong reproduction number natin is still less than 1 pero may increases din sa ibang lugar and kailangan din natin ma-monitor ‘yong mga areas na nagkakaroon ng increases… Hopefully, ma-control nila ‘yan kasi kaunti lang naman, ‘di naman ganoon karami,” he said.

“Pero I think ‘yong continued implementation sa NCR ng mga health protocols natin, social distancing, ‘yong wearing of face mask, face shield, I think nakakatulong ‘yan sa pag-decrease ng trend sa NCR,” he added.

Not irreversible

However, the experts pointed out that these positive trends are not irreversible. Due to this, it advised the government, the public, and concerned sectors to maintain their efforts in sustaining it.

“We believe that the strict and universal compliance with minimum health standards can lower COVID-19 transmissions in country,” the team said.

The OCTA Research team reiterated its recommendations to the government to urgently scale up its test, trace, and treat strategy to control the spread of the virus.

For the experts, the quarantines must also be augmented with better pandemic surveillance, more effective strategies for physical distancing, and compliance with other health protocols.

To avoid future surges

The experts said there is an urgent need to scale up the capacities of healthcare system. To deal with future surges, they said the government must ensure the following:

  • increased capacity of the national healthcare system to deal with the potential outbreaks
  • sufficient testing capability to cope with the expected increase in cases
  • sufficient PPE supplies for the front-liners
  • set up more isolation facilities in  the NCR and around the country
  • roll out of an effective and aggressive system for contact tracing

With the resumption of many socio-economic activities, the OCTA Research team said the private sector, especially businesses, must also improve their efforts to complement the initiatives of government.

These businesses should ensure safety in workplaces, provide testing as needed, operationalize policies to facilitate contact tracing, and guarantee compliance with minimum health standards.

“The cooperation of the business establishments will significantly reduce the risk of workplace transmission while jump-starting economic recovery,” the experts said. 

Latest tally

As of Wednesday, October 8, 2020, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines was at 329,637 after the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 2,825 new infections — the third straight day in which less than 3,000 new cases were reported.

Metro Manila still recorded the highest number of new infections at 1,031, followed by Cavite with 243, Batangas with 238, Bulacan with 173, and Rizal with 159.

Seventy-nine percent or 2,233 of the newly reported cases contracted COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

Total recoveries also rose to 273,723 after 437 more patients recovered from the respiratory disease, while the death toll climbed to 5,925 with 60 new fatalities. — with Ma. Angelica Garcia/KBK/RSJ, GMA News