Capital region now at low risk from coronavirus

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By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

MANILA, the capital and nearby cities are now at low risk from the coronavirus amid decreasing infections, researchers from the country’s premier university said on Monday.

The infection rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) had fallen to 5%, while only 30% of its healthcare system was being used, OCTA Research Group from the University of the Philippines said in a report.

The virus reproduction rate in the region was 0.53, lower than the critical cut-off of 1.4, OCTA said. The average daily attack rate or the number of infected people for 100,000 people had gone down to 5.72, it added.

The seven-day average for coronavirus infections in the capital region had fallen by 14% to 810, OCTA said.

“While some local government units (LGU) in Metro Manila had a one week growth rate, all 17 LGUs had a [virus] reproduction number of less than 0.9,” the group said. “This means all LGUs in NCR are still on a downward trend.”

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 3,117 coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 2.8 million.

The death toll rose to 43,276 after 104 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 5,124 to 2.7 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 43,185 active cases, 72.6% of which were mild, 4.9% did not show symptoms, 7.2% were severe, 12.32% were moderate and 3% were critical.

DoH said 18 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 13 of which were reclassified as recoveries, while 68 recoveries were relisted as deaths. Eight laboratories failed to submit data on Oct. 30.

The agency said 45% of intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied, while the rate in Metro Manila was 39%.

Meanwhile coronavirus infections nationwide would probably fall to 2,000 by the end of the month, OCTA Research fellow Fredegusto P. David said.

“If the current downward trend continues, we may have just 2,000 cases per day nationwide by the end of November,” he told a televised news briefing in Filipino.

Mr. David backed the proposal of business groups to further ease the lockdown in Metro Manila.

“We support the lowering of Metro Manila to Alert Level 2 so that more businesses can recover but we should do it in a safe manner,” he said.

Under Alert Level 2, businesses may operate indoors at 50% capacity. They will get an additional 10% capacity if they have a so-called safety seal from the government. For outdoor operations, they may operate at 70% capacity.

Mr. David said at least 80% of Metro residents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. “The chances of a COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) resurgence are lower since many people in Metro Manila are already protected.”

He reminded the public to follow minimum public health standards and avoid large gatherings. Mr. David said OCTA recommends limiting public transportation to fully vaccinated people.

An inter-agency task force has approved a plan to increase passenger capacity in road- and rail-based public transportation in Metro Manila and nearby provinces from 70% to full capacity starting Nov. 4.

Metro Manila is now under Alert Level 3, which allows 50% capacity for outdoor services and 30% capacity for indoor activities.

The government started enforcing granular lockdowns with five alert levels in the capital region after the country struggled to contain a fresh spike in infections triggered by a highly contagious Delta variant.

Mr. David on Sunday said Metro Manila may record just 500 cases per day by mid-November.