OCTA: NCR in a COVID-19 surge, but Cebu is hot spot

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July27) — The OCTA Research Group said the National Capital Region is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the reproduction rate at 1.33 and an average of 1,000 cases recorded per day.

"Right now, it's official, we are in a surge dito sa National Capital Region. Hindi po pwedeng balewalain ito; hindi pwedeng hindi pansinin itong pagtaas," said Prof. Ranjit Rye, an OCTA research fellow, at the Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday.

[Translation: Right now, it's official, we are in a surge here in the National Capital Region. We can't ignore this; we can't turn a blind eye to the rise in cases.]

He noted that just a month ago, NCR had a reproduction rate of 0.6.

"Nasa isang libo (kada raw) ang kaso natin. Pag humampas tayo sa mga dalawang libo, mararamdaman na po talaga ng ating mga ospital," he added.

[Translation: Cases are at 1,000 per day. When this hits 2,000 our hospitals will feel the effect.]

READ: PH can't handle Indonesia-like surge driven by Delta variant health workers group

At the same briefing, OCTA's Dr. Guido David said: "We're averaging 1,000 per day. Pag hindi pa ito napigilan, we will need to have a discussion kung ano pa yung pwede nating madagdag (na) mga restrictions or interventions para mapabagal yung pagdami ng mga cases."

[Translation: We're averaging 1,000 per day. If we don't put a stop to it, we will need to have a discussion on what other restrictions or interventions we can add to slow down the increase in cases.]

David said they don't know what caused cases to rise but added it's possible the Delta variant could have affected it.

Rye said the public should take more care and suggested the government "go early and go hard."

"Ang ayaw mo po namin ay mangyari yung nangyari sa Indonesia, sa India, yung nangyayari sa Thailand na sumabog yung mga kaso...too little, too late ang response," he said.

[Translation: What we don't want to happen is what happened in Indonesia, India and what is happening now in Thailand that when cases exploded...the response was too little, too late.]

He noted that in his State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte said the country could go back to lockdowns should the Delta variant spread. The question now is when these might take effect, he added.

"'Yung lockdown ba ay later, pag limang libong kaso na? O ngayon habang isang libo pa lang ang kaso, maagap at maingat na tayo," he said.

[Translation: Will the lockdowns happen later, when there are 5,000 cases? Or will it happen now when we have only 1.000, and we can be more careful and act faster.]

OCTA said it would support whatever decision the government would make.

However, the Department of Health said there is still "no definitive evidence" of a surge in NCR, maintaining it is still at moderate risk based on its two-week growth rate - which increased by 19% - and average daily attack rate of six infections per a population of 100,000.

"The DOH noted the observations of independent groups but maintains that such observations should be carefully verified," the department said in a statement.

During the briefing, Health Secretary Franciso Duque III agreed with OCTA's suggestion to "go early and go hard."

"Sinasang-ayunin natin itong rekomendasyon ng OCTA kaya walang tigil ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga pamahalaang lokal," he said.

[Translation: We agree with OCTA's recommendation that's why we continue to talk with local governments.]

Duque said local government units are the ones who enforce protocol and make sure all guidelines on safety and health were followed.

Despite the rise in NCR's reproduction rate, OCTA said Cebu was the "hot spot" when it comes to COVID-19.

"Right now, ang pinaka hot spot sa Pilipinas ay hindi NCR kung hindi it's the Cebu area; Cebu City, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu," said David.

"Mataas na yung reproduction number nila, it's around 1.9... In terms of average daily cases, pinakamataas na yung Cebu City sa buong bansa."

[Translation: Right now, the real hot spot isn't NCR but the Cebu area: Cebu City, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu... Their reproduction numbers are high, it's around 1.9... In terms of average daily cases, Cebu City is highest nationwide.]

David added Cagayan de Oro was another hot spot because of the high ICU utilization and reproduction number along with Laoag City. He also identified Mariveles as a high-risk area.