Positivity rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) has decreased to 4.9%, lower than the recommended 5% of the World Health Organization, according to OCTA Research on Tuesday.
The independent monitoring group said this is the first time the positivity rate in the region decreased to less than 5% since December 26, 2021 prior to the COVID-19 surge caused by the more transmissible Omicron variant.
NCR remained at "low risk" classification for COVID-19 with an average daily attack rate (ADAR) of 2.85 and a reproduction number of 2.85.
Reproduction rate refers to the number of people infected by one case. A reproduction number that is below 1 indicates that the transmission of the virus is slowing down.
ADAR, on the other hand, pertains to the incidence showing the average number of new cases in a period per 100,000 people.
Quezon 'very low risk'
Meanwhile, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal all remained at "low risk" classification, according to OCTA Research.
Quezon, meanwhile, is now at "very low risk" for COVID-19, it said.
Data from OCTA showed that ADAR in Quezon was at 0.51 per 100,000 individuals while its reproduction number was at 0.18. Its growth rate was recorded at -40%. All are considered very low.
According to covidactnow.org, a region's overall risk level is based on its ADAR. Low risk means an ADAR of less than 1 per 100,000 population.
Otherwise, the overall risk level reflects the highest risk level across the three metrics such as the ADAR, infection rate, and test positivity rate.
NCR mayors will meet on Tuesday night to discuss if the alert level in the region could already been downgraded from Alert Level 2 to 1 in March.
NCR ready for Alert Level 1
Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB on Tuesday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) officer-in-charge and general manager Romando Artes said local government units (LGUs) in the NCR are ready to shift to Alert Level 1.
According to Artes, NCR has been successful in implementing COVID-19 response programs.
Under Alert Level 1, intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be allowed without regard to age and comorbidities. All establishments, persons, or activities, are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue/seating capacity provided it is consistent with minimum public health standards.
Likewise, OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David explained that while they supported the decisions of the national and local governments, he suggested that Metro Manila be eased to Alert Level 1.
“Dahil less than 5% na ‘yung positivity rate at ang healthcare utilization ay nasa 25% lang, pati ‘yung ICU utilization mababa, so parang sa palagay namin sa perspective ng numbers ay mukhang andon na tayo na baka by March 1, pwede nang ibaba to Alert Level 1,” he said during a Laging Handa briefing.
(Because NCR’s positivity rate is less than 5%, its healthcare utilization is at 25%, and even its ICU utilization is low, we think based on the perspective of numbers that we are there–that by March 1, we can ease to Alert Level 1.)
David added that 16 out of 17 LGUs in the NCR were in the low-risk category for COVID-19, while the whole NCR also remained at low risk.
The average new COVID-19 infections in Metro Manila were at 400 per day.
“Sa Metro Manila, during the month of March, possible naman na baka ma-achieve natin ‘yung number of cases tulad nung nakita natin nung December 2021 na mga nasa 100 to 200 cases per day na lang,” he said.
(In March, Metro Manila may see the same number of cases as what we saw in December 2021 when the cases range from 100 to 200 per day.)
Octa also expected the ADAR would decrease to 2 to -2 by next week and probably by 1 in March. If the ADAR is at 1, then NCR will be at very low risk.
David warned that COVID-19 infections may spike anew if Eleksyon 2022 candidates and their supporters do not observe the minimum public health standards during campaign activities such as rallies and caravans.
“Posibleng hindi natin maiwasan minsan kung magkaron ng minor outbreaks, pero sa nakikita naman natin, wala pa namang threat ngayon nga magkaron ng resurges katulad noong nangyari nung December,” he said.
(We may not be able to avoid minor outbreaks, but as far as we can see, there is no threat now to have resurges like what happened in December.)