Record 30,000 daily virus cases likely this month

AN eight-month-old pregnant woman got vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine at Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon City. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINES may post record daily coronavirus infections of more than 30,000 this month, according to researchers from the country’s premier university, as the government struggles to contain a fresh surge in cases caused by a more contagious Delta strain.

The country had yet to experience a peak in infections, and the infection rate has been declining slowly, OCTA Research Group fellow Fredegusto P. David told ABS-CBN Teleradyo on Sunday.

“It could happen maybe today or tomorrow,” he said. “It’s possible and we will exceed that by next week,” he added in Filipino.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 20,019 coronavirus infections on Sunday, bringing the total to 2.08 million.

The death toll rose to 34,234 after 173 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 20,089 to 1.89 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 157,438 active cases, 92% of which were mild, 3.4% did not show symptoms, 1.4% were severe, 2.51% were moderate and 0.7% were critical.

The agency said 119 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 95 of which were tagged as recoveries and one as a death, while 58 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Five laboratories failed to submit data on Sept. 3.

Mr. David said the government’s decision to lift the travel ban on several countries could affect the numbers.

OCTA said it was unlikely that Metro Manila’s daily infections will hit 43,000, as projected by Philippine health authorities.

The number of cases in Metro Manila, which is battling a spike in cases, is expected to decline as early as next week, Mr. David said.

Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao del Sur, Cagayan, Bukidnon, Tarlac, Quezon and Pangasinan are also experiencing a spike in infections, he said. The country’s positivity rate was 28%.

“We just have to be patient to strictly implement whatever restrictions we have,” he said. “Let’s cut nonessential travel and follow health restrictions.”

The virus reproduction rate in Quezon City, the largest city in the capital region, was down to 1.3% from 1.59%, Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

“Based on projections made by experts, by now, we should have had 2,000 cases a day,” she said. “At the moment, we haven’t reached 1,000, and daily active cases are stable, which means we’re able to contain the virus.”

She traced this to continued testing and strict quarantines, adding that the city was the first to enforce a granular lockdown system last year.

“It’s a very effective way of addressing COVID in such a large city so the entire city won’t get affected,” Ms. Belmonte said in mixed English and Filipino.

The capital region will continue to implement granular lockdowns, while the government is still studying and monitoring whether to retain its quarantine classification, said Benjamin D. Abalos, Jr., who heads the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

He noted that while infections have been increasing, many have not shown symptoms because they have been vaccinated.

Metro Manila has given out vaccines to 12,950,718 residents, fully vaccinating half of its target population, Mr. Abalos said.

Meanwhile, a plan for localized lockdowns in Metro Manila was awaiting President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s approval, his spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez on Saturday said an inter-agency task force had approved the enforcement of granular lockdowns in the capital region starting Sept. 8.

He said the localized lockdowns would have four levels, noting that two nearby streets could have two different quarantine levels. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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