Metro Manila sees rise in new COVID-19 cases; Pasay logs over 200% increase — OCTA

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The national capital region has once again recorded an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, with Pasay City seeing a 203% increase in infections over the past three days, the independent research group OCTA reports.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 21) — The national capital region has once again recorded an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, the independent research group OCTA said on Sunday.

In its latest monitoring report, OCTA said the daily average new cases in Metro Manila over the past three days have climbed to 563. This is up by 45% from the daily average of 388 recorded from the week prior.

The region’s reproduction number, a statistic used to measure the rate of virus transmission, also grew to 1.22 from the 1.00 listed two weeks ago.

The positivity rate in NCR — or the percentage of those infected out of all tested — has meanwhile breached 5% over the past week. This is based on around 16,000 RT-PCR tests conducted daily. The group noted that the last time the region exceeded 5% was November 2020. The World Health Organization recommends that the positivity rate be kept below that percentage.

A huge contributor to this reported increase was Pasay City, which saw a 203% spike in infections in the last three days. OCTA said that from the 28-daily average recorded from Feb. 11 to 17, the city recorded an average of 86 cases daily from Feb. 18 to 20.

Following this surge, the Pasay City government has locked down 33 barangays and one business establishment — a commendable “swift response,” according to OCTA.

The next biggest rise in NCR was seen in Malabon which had a 166% increase, followed by Las Piñas with 116%. OCTA said Pasay and Malabon now fall under the high-risk classification as per the Health department’s guidelines, while Las Piñas remains at moderate risk.

Nine other local government units in the region also posted at least a 20% rise in cases over the same period. Pateros, Navotas and Muntinlupa, on the other hand, reported a decline. Meanwhile, the positivity rate in Marikina and Paranaque remained high at 14% and 10%, respectively.

“This recent spike in cases indicates that the virus remains as a public health threat in NCR, and the local governments and public cannot afford to be complacent,” OCTA said.

OCTA experts are among those rejecting the National Economic and Development Authority's proposal to shift the entire country to the least stringent form of community quarantine starting March 1. The group called the move "risky and premature," noting that the Philippines has not yet even started its vaccination program. It said the government should first prioritize immunization of healthcare workers, strengthen biosurveillance efforts to detect new variants, and improve testing and tracing capacity before moving to ease quarantine rules.

As of Feb. 21, the Health department has tallied 561,169 COVID-19 cases nationwide, with 12,088 deaths and 522,843 recoveries.