Pretty much startling, the warning by the Department of Health that daily COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila could reach up to 43,000 by September 30 unless the national and local governments boosted virus containment measures.
“Based on a set of assumptions, daily cases in the National Capital Region for September 30 may range from 16,000 to 43,000. The assumptions used included mobility, public health and healthcare capacities and system, and the public’s adherence to the minimum public health standards,” the DOH said in a statement Thursday last week.
The DOH said the projection was “not cast in stone,” adding the figures were used to guide the government to be better prepared in its pandemic response, especially with the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant.
“With these high daily case projections, the Department calls on the national government and LGUs to lower the interval between case detection to isolation, strictly monitor the public’s adherence to the MPHS, and further ramp up vaccination coverage to lower our daily cases in NCR,” it said.
“The DOH also reminded the public to use face masks correctly and consistently, practice physical distancing, and get vaccinated when they become eligible,” it said.
Independent expert group OCTA Research earlier said it expected new cases in the NCR to continue to increase, “albeit at a slower growth rate.”
It said the reproduction number, which refers to the number of people that each COVID-19 case may have, could hit below 1 by the third week of September.
Metro Manila reported 41,449 active cases as of Thursday, based on DOH data. The region has so far posted 618,724 recoveries and 9,004 deaths.
At least 45 percent of the target population in the NCR are now fully vaccinated, according to data from the government.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque has told legislators that herd immunity is possible by the first quarter of 2022 – with at least 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses being administered daily.
“Supply permitting and assuming there will be about 500,000 to 600,000 doses jabbed per day, the conservative estimate is, we might be able to achieve herd immunity sometime… the second month of the first quarter of 2022,” Duque said during the deliberations last week for the DOH’s proposed P242.22-billion allocation.
In fact, the Health chief said, the Department of Finance had reported to President Duterte that 195 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were expected to arrive by the end of 2021.
“Having said that, it will exceed our herd immunity target of 77 million Filipinos, about 70 percent of the population, so we are confident that excess doses will be sufficient to cover those not belonging to the herd immunity population as identified,” he said.
This also includes the inoculation of children.
“The VEP and the all experts group are working on this double time and hopefully next week they will be able to give us the technical report that will [determine] a policy amendment which means we can start inoculating children,” he said.
But Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said discussing herd immunity at this time is premature; instead, discussions on having a third dose of vaccine should be the concern of Duque.
Let’s do away with the discussion of herd immunity as of the moment but let’s discuss the importance of a third dose,” said Garin, former Health secretary.
“Herd immunity means you can no longer infect others and many of those vaccinated would not be infected, This is science,” she added.
As of Aug. 29, around 33,099,392 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered nationwide, based on the presentation made by NTF Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
Around 13,784,681 people have been fully vaccinated, while some 19,317,711 people have received the first dose.
The government targets 76.3 million of the 110 million-plus population to achieve herd immunity.
In the meanwhile, the DOH warning on COVID-19 cases reaching 43,000 by the end of this month is rather terrifying. (ai/mtvn)