UP experts: COVID-19 transmission rising in 13 areas, tighter quarantine rules needed

By CNN Philippines Staff

The country’s COVID-19 cases are on a downtrend, but the government may consider a stricter quarantine classification for 13 areas which have seen an increase in viral transmission, said experts from the University of the Philippines.

The UP OCTA Research team noted in its October 6 report that over the past three weeks, the following high-risk areas saw a rise in their daily attack rates per 1,000 population:

– Benguet (including Baguio City)

– Nueva Ecija

– Quezon 

– Pangasinan (including Dagupan)

– Davao del Sur (including Davao City)

– Iloilo (including Iloilo City)

– Misamis Oriental (including Cagayan de Oro)

– South Cotabato

– Surigao del Sur

– Western Samar

– Zamboanga del Sur (including Zamboanga City)

The team said these areas are considered high-risk as they have a daily attack rate greater than one percent and have reported an upward trend since Sept. 16. The attack rate refers to the percentage of the population that catches the virus over a period.

“The national government may consider reverting to a stricter quarantine classification for the aforementioned areas,” the team said.

Meanwhile, it also suggested placing the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela under a stricter quarantine status. While both are still classified as low-risk, it said the two areas have likewise been recording a rise in new cases and have limited hospital capacity.

The report also showed that the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Negros Occidental have logged a decline in their daily attack rates. However, they are still considered high-risk after reporting more than 100 new cases daily over the past two weeks. Along with Metro Manila, these five areas typically account for the highest number of new patients announced by the Department of Health (DOH) daily.

“The national and local government must intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation to reverse the increase of transmissions in these areas,” the group said.

Decreasing trend for PH

While an increase has been seen in some areas, the national COVID-19 figures have generally been improving, experts said.

They noted that the country’s new cases have dropped to an average of below 2,500 daily based on DOH reports. In Metro Manila, the country’s outbreak epicenter, new infections are now at less than 1,000 per day.

The positivity rate in the National Capital Region, or the percentage of people who test positive for the virus out of all those tested, also dipped to eight percent. The group pointed out, however, that this is still above the World Health Organization’s ideal rate of five percent.

It further stressed that the positive trends are “not irreversible” and that significant efforts must be made by all stakeholders to sustain the gains. It added that the implementation of more aggressive localized lockdowns in Metro Manila and other high-risk areas are “urgently needed to suppress further viral transmissions.”

As of Oct. 8, the country’s case tally reached 331,869. Of this number, the DOH said 51,482 are currently ill, 6,069 have died and 274,318 have recovered.

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