(UPDATE) Metro Manila is seeing an "early stage" surge in COVID-19 cases, which should move authorities to heighten their pandemic response, the OCTA research group said.
There should be stricter implementation of localized lockdowns, border checks and wearing of face masks and face shields. Protocols on international arivals should be revisited as the more contagious UK and South African variants have been detected locally, OCTA said.
On Saturday, the Department of Health reported 3,439 new infections, for a second straight day of daily cases above the 3,000-mark. The last time it crossed that threshold was in October 2020. The seven-day moving average this week is also rising. From Feb. 26 to March 4, OCTA tallied 900 infections in Metro Manila.
RESTRICTIONS ARE EASING:
"Based on our analysis of the data and the past trends in the NCR, we believe that a surge in its early stages has already started in some LGUs in the region," said OCTA, which is advising the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.
"Unlike past surges experienced, the current surge has spread very quickly in a short period. The increase in cases and the reproduction number indicates that the virus is already spreading exponentially in several LGUs in the region," the OCTA report was quoted on ABS-CBN News.
OCTA raised concern over the spike in Pasay City, where at least three of the 58 South African variant cases were located.
ONE YEAR AFTER 2020 LOCKDOWN:
Authorities must act swiftly to address the UK and South African variants, which are "game-changing" because they are more contagious and could undermine the vaccine drive, OCTA said.
"The priority now is to contain or mitigate the spread of these more contagious and lethal variants apart from preventing the surge in the region from becoming full-blown," it said.