OCTA says Philippines at low risk from coronavirus


By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES remains at low risk from the coronavirus, pandemic monitoring group OCTA Research Group said on Monday, even as it cited a decline in the country’s RT-PCR testing output.

“With low RT-PCR testing, we won’t be seeing huge numbers like in 2021 and early 2022,” OCTA fellow Fredegusto P. David said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

The Philippines’ seven-day positivity rate was 2.7%, below the 5% threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO), he said. The country’s hospital use rate was also low at 18.6%.

“We expect numbers to remain low for a while until the next subvariant wave,” he said. “Even then, it is likely that cases will remain below 3,000 per day.”

Mr. David said in case of an infection spurred by a new variant, the country’s hospital occupancy rate was still low.

The WHO has said the coronavirus would probably become an endemic disease like influenza as its movements become more predictable.

In its weekly report published on Jan. 19, WHO said almost 2.8 million new infections and more than 13,000 deaths were reported on Jan. 9 to 15 globally.

Almost 13 million cases were reported globally from Dec. 19, 2022 to Jan. 15, a 7% decline from 28 days ago, it said. Deaths rose by 20% to almost 53,000.

More than 662 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, while about 6.7 million have died, WHO said.

The seven-day positivity rate in Metro Manila had fallen to 2.4% as of Jan. 21 from 3.7% a week earlier, OCTA said. Pangasinan province had the lowest positivity rate at 1.4%, followed by Cavite at 1.8% and Bulacan 2%.

La Union and Quezon both came in third at 2.2% each, while Bataan and Benguet were tied in the fourth spot at 2.5% each.

Laguna province’s positivity rate was 2.8%, followed by Ilocos Norte at 2.9%, Nueva Ecija at 3.1%, Pampanga at 3.4%, Albay at 3.5%, Batangas at 4%, Zambales at 4.3% and Cagayan at 4.5%, OCTA said.

The positivity rate in Isabela province had fallen to 10.7% as of Jan. 21 from 50.2%, while Oriental Mindoro fell to 9.1% from 20.5%.

A positivity rate of less than 5% is considered low, while a rate of 5% to 8% is “substantial,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s a high COVID-19 transmission when the positivity rate hits at least 10%.

The Philippines posted 1,891 coronavirus infections in the past week, with a daily average of 270, according to health authorities.

The daily average from Jan. 16 to 22 was 35% lower than a week earlier, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin. Of the new cases, four were severe and critical.

DoH said it had verified 104 more deaths in the past week, seven of which occurred on Jan. 9 to 22.

It said 370 of 2,299 intensive care unit (ICU) beds had been used as of Jan. 22, while 3,509 of 18,410 non-ICU beds were occupied. There were 432 severe and critical admissions, it added.

DoH said 73.82 million Filipinos had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus 21.29 million of whom received booster shots.

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