DOH: Daily COVID-19 cases down 10%, but may still rise to 8,670 by end of October

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — Reported COVID-19 infections nationwide have gone down the past week, but may still rise significantly by the end of October if the public lowers its guard against the virus, a health official said Monday.

Dr. Alethea de Guzman, Department of Health epidemiology bureau director, said the 2,048 daily average COVID-19 cases recorded on Oct. 3 to 9 reflects a 10% decline from the prior week

She said FASSSTER — a web application for creating disease models — showed daily cases may go as low as 1,204 by end of October. This was based on the situation as of Sept. 18.

But if people's compliance to masking, social distancing and other safety measures against COVID-19 will go down further, she said daily infections may reach somewhere between 4,055 and 8,670.

Meanwhile, she said another forecast by the Australian Tuberculosis Monitoring Network (AuTuMN) states "severe and critical cases are not seen to exceed those previously observed during the Delta and Omicron spike" despite the projected increase.

But De Guzman said this has not yet factored in the emergence of a new variant which could potentially increase the risk of hospitalization.

"With the emergence of a new variant, this may lead to a sharp increase in hospitalization at the beginning of 2023 in NCR (National Capital Region). However, the effects of the emergence of a new variant that may be more transmissible or immune escaping, may be minimized with vaccination, especially with our booster and also prioritizing the elderly, which has a much higher reach for mortality," she said.

She noted the importance of vaccination, especially among older people who are at most risk of hospitalization and death due to the virus.

Since the start of the pandemic, up to 14.5 out of 100 people aged 60 years and older died from COVID-19 infection. Meanwhile, deaths among rest of the population were below 1:100, the DOH data shows.

However, De Guzman noted a big dip to only 1.4% to 3.3% deaths among the infected older population in August and September due to wider vaccine coverage.

"Mas malaki risk pa rin ang risk ng pagkamatay among the much older population pero dahil na-achieve ang vaccine coverage, napapataas ang booster coverage, napababa significantly ang risk of death," De Guzman said.

[Translation: The risk of dying among the much older population remains high. But because vaccine coverage has been achieved and booster coverage has increased, death risks went down significantly.]

She also noted that “a larger portion” of recent deaths were among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.