Unless steps are taken to stop the surge, the Philippines could record as many as 8,000 COVID cases daily by the end of March. Left unchecked by April, Metro Manila alone could see up to 14,000 daily cases, a research group said Sunday.
The OCTA Research Group based its projection on the reproduction rate or R, which measures the speed with with the virus spreads. It currently stands at 1.95, meaning a COVID positive person could infect up to two others, said Dr. Guido David, OCTA Research fellow.
"Hindi tayo nananakot. Sinasabi lang natin, 'yan ang science. Wala namang fear-mongering sa science. 'Yung projections namin, nagkatotoo na. In fact, mas mabilis na siya compared sa original naming projection. Kaya, nag-readjust ng projection," he said.
How fast is the virus spreading?
The 1.95 reproduction rate compared with the 1.6 recorded in Cebu City last year, which kept it under higher quarantine restrictions while the rest of the country was reopening businesses, David told Teleradyo.
"Mas mataas ang R, mas Mabilis ang hawaan," he said. "Parang speed ng pagbiyahe ng sasakyan."
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What is causing the surge?
While there is not enough evidence, David said the emergence of new virus variants could have contributed to the spike. The Philippines has so far confirmed local cases of the Brazil, UK and South African variants, all of which are believed to be more contagious without being more lethal.
Authorities have also pointed to public complacency in complying with minimum health standards: wearing of face masks and face shields, physical distancing and hand washing.
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Should an ECQ or MECQ be declared?
The public and the government should work hand-in-hand to prevent a rollback to strict quarantines, David said. An ECQ or MECQ could be an option, he said.
Should Metro Manila record up to 6,000 daily cases, the surge risks overwhelming the health system, he said.
The last time Metro Manila was placed under MECQ (the second highest quarantine) was in August 2020, when a surge forced frontliners to call for a timeout. The second lowest quarantine, GCQ, has been in place since September.