NEW Covid-19 cases may soon exceed the figures recorded in previous surges, especially in Metro Manila, OCTA Research Senior Fellow Dr. Guido David said.
“It is highly likely that the Omicron variant is causing the increase in new cases, given the high reproduction number. In fact in Metro Manila, the reproduction number is now at 4.05 while during the Delta [surge], it did not exceed 2,” David said.
The OCTA Fellow noted that the spike in cases was primarily seen in Metro Manila, but increases were also observed in Cavite, Rizal, Laguna and Bulacan.
David said that the surge can still be contained as the National Capital Region (NCR) will again be under Alert Level 3 beginning today, January 3.
“Hopefully, the Alert Level 3 will help in decreasing the number of new Covid-19 cases, but it will still increase at a rapid rate,” he said.
David recommended a return of the NCR Plus bubble set-up to prevent the further transmission of the virus, or the implementation of stricter border control in provinces. The OCTA Fellow advised parents to stop their children from visiting malls as pediatric Covid-19 cases have also increased.
“The surge could rapidly increase, but also rapidly decline as with what happened in South Africa, but we cannot guarantee that because of the different experiences of each country — varied vaccination rates and vaccination coverage,” he said.
He was hopeful that the new wave cases will end by late January or early February.
David shared an optimistic outlook on hospitalization rates, saying that unlike last year when medical institutions were overflowing with cases, the number of patients needing critical care will be lower because 50 million Filipinos have been vaccinated.
However, he pointed out that being vaccinated will not prevent an individual from getting infected.
The OCTA Fellow urged those who have completed their doses to get a booster shot, and for the public to comply with health protocols.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Sunday said that the government aims to fully vaccinate 77 million Filipinos before the May national elections.
Galvez reminded Filipinos that the country is “not yet out of the woods.”
“Covid-19 cases are rising once again. We need to vaccinate as quickly as we can and use the Janssen vaccines which we now have in abundant supply,” he said.
The official said the government must focus its vaccination drive on senior citizens and persons with comorbidities, and make sure that they complete their primary doses and are given their booster shots.
The vaccine czar said the government also has to start vaccinating children aged 5 to 11.
“There is also a need to prescribe vaccine mandates to reduce the risk coming from unvaccinated individuals,” Galvez added.
At the same time, local government units were urged to strengthen their prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate strategies and impose granular lockdowns if necessary.
“We also need to continuously upgrade our Covid-19 health care facilities throughout the country by adding more Covid-19 beds, oxygen tanks, and Covid-19 medicines. As early as now, we have to prepare for future surges,” he said.
WITH CATHERINE VALENTE