Several cities in Metro Manila and other areas including Baguio and Lucena have been identified by the OCTA Research team as “high-risk” for COVID-19 infections due to an increased number of cases per day and an alarming hospital occupancy rate in the past two weeks.
In the latest report released by the group, it said that the top four areas of concern are the cities of Makati, Baguio, Mandaluyong, and Lucena which have recorded the highest average number of new cases from October 11 to 17.
According to the day-to-day tracking of confirmed cases, Makati City topped the list of high-risk areas, with a daily average of 59 new cases and a 10 percent attack rate. Its hospital occupancy is also at a critical 79 percent which is above the 70 percent danger level.
Ranking second is Baguio City, a popular tourist destination which recently opened to tourists. It recorded an average of 39 cases per day with an 11.1 percent attack rate, and has a 69 percent care occupancy rate.
It was followed by Mandaluyong City with an average of 34 COVID-19 cases daily. Though its attack rate is lower at 8 percent, it has a critical hospital capacity at 75 percent.
The research group also raised alarm on Lucena City in Quezon and Batangas City as the hospital capacity in these areas are almost full at 95 percent.
Other cities listed in OCTA’s top 10 high-risk areas include Pasig City, Iloilo City, Pasay City, Marikina City, and Ilagan City in Isabela.
“The concern is that these local government units (LGUs) identified as high-risk may experience an overwhelming of their health care systems and their medical front-liners in the coming weeks,” the group said in its report.
Meanwhile, the National Capital Region (NCR) still has the highest average number of new infections with 810 daily new cases from October 12 to 18, but OCTA noted that this is continuously decreasing compared to previous records.
The reproduction number in NCR is at 0.70, still below 1 meaning that local transmissions are being controlled, while the region’s positivity rate is at 6 percent.
The OCTA Research team pointed out that the current trend in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines is in the “right direction” as the reproduction rate is also below 1 or at 0.8
“These positive trends have been sustained over the last four weeks. However, these are not irreversible. Significant efforts need to be sustained by all sectors of society to ensure that these positive trends will continue,” it added.
OCTA emphasized that LGUs, especially those in high-risk areas, should further intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation to reverse the increase of transmissions at the community level.
They also need to implement “more aggressive and effective localized lockdowns with stricter border controls” to suppress further viral transmissions in their areas.
“We reiterate the need for the national and the local governments to strictly monitor and enforce compliance with minimum health standards such as physical distancing, the wearing of face mask and face shields, and proper hygiene to reverse the increase in transmissions at the community level,” it added.
The OCTA team is an independent and interdisciplinary research group that has been studying the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. It is composed primarily of UP faculty members and alumni with contributors from the University of Santo Tomas and Providence College, USA.