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OCTA Research: NCR's COVID-19 reproduction number up to 1.15

An OCTA Research fellow on Thursday said the COVID-19 reproduction number in the National Capital Region has increased to 1.15, indicating sustained transmission as the country braces for the Delta variant.

"Iyang reproduction number, iyan ang nagsasabi gaano kabilis ang hawaan. Kapag more than one, ibig sabihin mas mabilis na siya... bumibilis siya. 'Pag less than one, it means bumabagal siya," said Professor Guido David in an interview on Unang Balita.

(The reproduction number refers to the number of people that one COVID-19 case can infect. If more than one, it means the patient in infecting more than one people.)

He also said the number of new daily COVID-19 cases may reach 10,000 in the coming weeks and the entry of Delta variant cases in the country may be considered a factor.

"Yesterday's number na 6,000 mataas iyan, we are expecting na more than 8,000. It means na tumataas na ang cases, we might see 10,000 by next week or next, next week," David said.

Since the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified MECQ, the reproduction number went down to as low as 0.6, which David said is the effect of the restrictions.

"Sa report niyo nga, 1.06. Ngayon kasi tumaas na ulit, 1.15 na siya [Your previous report is 1.06, but it has already increased to 1.15] ," he said.

A reproduction number between 0.9 and 1.1 is considered moderate at-risk. Figures above 1.1 is considered high risk.

"Ibig sabihin nasa high risk na 'yon, ibig sabihin nasa high risk na ang NCR sa reproduction number," David said, explaining that if 10 people are COVID-19 positive at least 11 are expected to be infected.

(That means NCR is already at high risk as far as reproduction number is concerned.)

Delta variant

The surge in cases may be the effect of the presence of the Delta variant in the country, David said.

"It's possible, binabantayan nga namin yung trend sa Delta variant. Nakita natin sa ibang bansa napakabilis niya [We're monitoring Delta variant's trend. In other countries the rate of transmission is very high], it's 50% more infectious compared to Alpha and Beta variant," said David.

The research group, in monitoring the cases in the different parts of the country, noted an increase in the reproduction number.

"Cagayan de Oro, nasa 1.8 pero the fact na tumataas ang NCR this is concerning and it's possible na may kinalaman dito ang Delta variant kasi na-control na natin yung Alpha and Beta variant so it must be something new or baka may combination na may Delta variant and iba pang involved," he said.

But this has to be confirmed yet, David added.

"Hindi pa natin mako-confirm iyon. Sequencing ang magko-confirm niyan. We are right now making assumptions. Nagkaka-surge na tayo," he said.

There is no cause for alarm at this time but there is a major concern because one of the cities in Metro Manila has a reproduction number of 1.35, which is David said is "almost very high."

NCR cases up by 27%

In its latest monitoring report, OCTA said Metro Manila averaged 813 new cases daily during July 15 to 21, a 27% increase from the average of 638 recorded in the week before.

The capital region’s positivity rate also hit 6%, just slightly above the World Health Organization threshold of 5%.

“While it is not clear what is driving this increase in new cases without scientific basis, it is best to be cautious and prepared for a possible surge,” OCTA said, stressing that the uptick in infections can still be mitigated.

The group urged active contact tracing, localized lockdowns, tightened restrictions, adjusted curfew hours, and reduced operating capacity of business establishments, non-essential travel, and mobility of kids and adolescents.

“There is still time to reverse the rising trend that we are seeing now in the NCR, but we must be decisive, united and act swiftly,” OCTA said.

Uptick in cases

Meanwhile, in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), said they are already seeing a fresh uptick in COVID-19 cases based on an increasing number of patients going to COVID-19 emergency rooms.

“Medyo nararamdaman na talaga namin ‘yung pagtaas ng mga kaso, lalong lalo na starting mga latter part of last week, nag-umpisa na medyo napansin naming dumadami. Maski hanggang linggong ito ay medyo mas marami talaga,” she said.

(We have been feeling the rise in cases, especially since the latter part of last week, when we started to notice that cases were increasing. Even until this week, cases are slightly higher.)

Limpin also noted that infections are increasing even among health workers.  with Julia Mari Ornedo/BAP/KBK, GMA News