Dip in NCR cases has stalled – OCTA

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    Experts warn of 10K cases daily if response is not improved

    THE independent OCTA Research yesterday warned coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Metro Manila can hit an average of 10,000 daily if no adjustments are made in the government’s pandemic interventions.

    In a virtual press briefing, OCTA fellow Guido David said the surge in cases is likely as the downtrend in the reproduction rate and growth rate in the National Capital Region (NCR), the epicenter of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Philippines, has already stopped.

    “A few weeks ago, we saw a slowing down of the trend. The slope has decreased. For the reproduction number in the NCR, it has now stalled in the 1.4 to 1.45 region,” said David.

    “It is not what we were hoping to see. The growth rate in the NCR has stalled, more or less, constantly, at 15 percent over the past few weeks,” he added.

    David said the development can be interpreted as to mean that the COVID-19 response being done in Metro Manila is not effective.

    “It tells us that the interventions right now are not leading to a downward trend. We are not yet seeing a peak of cases,” said David.

    David said this scenario is likely to result to a complete reversal of the previous downward trend and eventually lead to the region seeing an average of 10,000 new cases daily.

    “If we are not able to reduce the reproduction number, it will bring us closer to 10,000 cases per day in the NCR by the end of September,” said David.

    He said, though, that if effective responses are adopted, there could be a “very slow” decrease in the reproduction number with the peak projected by late September at less than 7,500 cases.

    “With a more effective strategy to reduce reproduction number, hopefully, we can see the peak before the end of September, and cases will start to decrease by the end of September towards October,” said David.

    For his part, OCTA fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco said the NCR is experiencing an “Ondoy”-like situation due to the high number of COVID-19 cases.

    “What has happened now is like ‘Ondoy’ – a COVID-19 typhoon has stopped over the NCR and the rain continues to fall,” he said, adding that the situation will easily result to the healthcare system being overwhelmed and medical frontliners drowning.

    “Our hospitals are being flooded slowly. The flood waters will continue for many more weeks. They threaten to drown our medical front liners,” Austriaco added.

    One clear example of Austriaco’s statement is the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), which is already operating beyond its capacity.

    In a television interview, PGH spokesman Dr. Jonas Del Rosario disclosed that they already have COVID-19 patients that are more than their COVID-19 bed allocation.

    “We have about 320 COVID beds allotted at PGH. We are beyond our capacity with 310 patients in the hospital and about 40 patients in the emergency room waiting to get into the hospital,” said Del Rosario.

    “So that’s pretty much 350 patients out of 320 beds. We’re 30 patients above our threshold,” he added.

    Add to this, he said, are the additional 200 COVID-19 patients looking to be referred to the PGH, which is a COVID-19 referral hospital.

    “There are about 200 patients waiting in the wings, wanting to be admitted, waiting to be transferred to PGH,” said Del Rosario.