DOH says COVID-19 cases in NCR have not peaked yet

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — The Department of Health said the rise in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila has not reached a peak yet, contradicting an opinion earlier aired by an OCTA researcher.

"At this point, hindi pa nakikita na nagpi-peak na tayo sa mga kaso. Pinagaaralan nating maigi," DOH Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said Saturday in a Laging Handa briefing.

[Translation: At this point, we have yet to see the cases peaking. We are studying this closely.]

Vergeire was reacting to an observation made by OCTA Research fellow Guido David, who tweeted that "early indications are that the surge may have already peaked in the NCR."

But David cautioned in an email to CNN Philippines that people need to wait "a few more days to make sure" infections have indeed peaked.

"Efforts must be sustained because trends may still reverse," he said.

The capital region's COVID-19 reproduction number is down to 1.22, according to David's estimates. The reproduction number was 1.39 in the previous week, David said two days ago.

The ideal reproductive number should be one or less, as anything higher means there is still significant community transmission, medical experts have earlier said.

NCR logged around 9,000 new COVID-19 cases last Saturday, the highest since the pandemic started, according to David.

Metro Manila so far has 753,347 cases, of which 52,561 are currently ill, data as of Friday showed. Of the total, 691,460 cases were tagged as recovered, while 9,326 resulted in deaths.

David also pointed out that there are days when infections in Metro Manila could still increase due to reporting backlogs.

Risk classification

Vergeire tagged the following regions as under high risk for COVID-19: Metro Manila, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Cordillera Administrative Region, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Caraga, and Soccsksargen.

The risk classification is based on the two-week growth rate and the average daily attack rate (ADAR).

"Ibig sabihin mataas pa rin po ang kanilang ADAR, at saka meron ho silang positive na two-week growth rate," the DOH official said.

[Translation: This high-risk classification means they have a high ADAR and positive two-week growth rate.]