Many banks and other establishments, including some government offices, have temporarily closed work hours, with some posting at their entrance doors the sign “Closed until further notice.”
Thursday this week, the Philippines registered 31,173 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the national tally to 3,324,478, according to data from the Department of Health, of which 95 percent occurred from January 7 to 20.
The regions with the highest number of additional infections during that period were Metro Manila (30 percent), Calabarzon (22 percent), and Central Luzon (9 percent), with the number of active cases at 275,364, of which 95 percent have mild illness.
The DOH also reported that the death toll increased by 110 to 53,153, while recoveries rose by 26,298 to 2,995,961.
But the independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research said the National Capital Region or Metro Manila said new COVID-19 cases were on a downward trajectory in recent days with the recent decreasing pattern “becoming true.”
Per the Department of Health’s daily case bulletin, of the 22,958 additional COVID-19 infections recorded Wednesday, 8,376 were from the National Capital Region. Six testing laboratories did not submit data to the DOH.
According to OCTA Research, Metro Manila’s reproduction rate – or the number of people one positive COVID-19 case can infect on average — declined to just 1.79 from up to 4.24 throughout last week.
We note that earlier on, the research body said it was still too early to conclude that the cases in the capital region were going down as the downtick could still be attributed to limited testing capacity. David on Wednesday evening said the “pattern [is] becoming true.”
But 43.5 percent of 62,531 samples on January 17 tested positive for COVID-19 in Wednesday’s tally – still significantly above the 5 percent positivity rate threshold set by the World Health Organization before opening economies.
“While this is encouraging news, it must be emphasized that NCR remains at critical risk as the [average daily attack rate] and the positivity rate are still above critical levels,” a careful David said.
“Residents are advised not to be complacent and (must) still comply strictly with minimum public health standards so as not to prolong the surge of infections.”
A point that must be heeded.
In the meanwhile, the surge of the new COVID cases in Metro Manila has prompted the leadership of the House of Representatives to suspend sessions up to Jan. 24.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the session that resumed on Monday had to be suspended again because of the reported infection of tens of members of the staff and officials of the chamber.
Since the start of the year, the House chief said more than 70 House members and employees had contracted the virus and many others were undergoing quarantine or self-isolation after exhibiting symptoms or having close contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19.
“Despite this, we continue to fulfill our constitutional duty of enacting laws that promote the interests and welfare of our people, while taking restrictive yet necessary measures to create a safe
environment for House members and employees,” Velasco said
Earlier on, some 540 areas across the country were placed under granular lockdown as the country continues to grapple with a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 cases, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.
At the same time, Año said the DILG had issued a memorandum circular to LGUs, police officers, and traffic bureaus to implement the Department of Transportation’s “no vaccination, no ride policy” in compliance with the President’s order to restrict the movement of the unvaccinated.
“Only people with medical conditions and citizens who need access to essential and medical services can be granted an exemption. For now, it is being properly implemented and we can say that our countrymen are generally compliant,” he said, adding that the League of Provinces of the Philippines has also directed all provinces to follow the policy.
Año also reported that personnel of the DILG and its attached agencies, including him, were not spared from the surge in infections.
As of Monday, Año said the Philippine National Police had the most number of COVID-19 active infections with 4,015, followed by the Bureau of Fire Protection with 471 and the DILG central and regional offices with 98 cases.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology recorded 91 cases, followed by the National Police Commission with 60; Philippine Public Safety College, 13; Philippine Commission on Women, 13; Local Government Academy, 10, National Youth Commission, four; and National Commission for Muslim Filipinos, one.
Meanwhile, four governors and 21 mayors have so far contracted COVID-19.
Whatever the reports are – and the numbers rise or fall – we should continue to maintain and practice the basic health protocols of, among others, washing the hands, spraying metals and other held items like wood with alcohol, and social distancing.
Protecting our health makes us – every Filipino – winners in this battle against the global health emergency. (ai/mtvn)