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Daily coronavirus cases fell by 19%, says OCTA group

PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

THE DAILY average of coronavirus infections in Manila, the capital and nearby cities has declined by 19%, according to the OCTA Research Group.

The daily average had fallen to 862 cases in the week ending Aug. 29 from 1,062 a week earlier, OCTA Fellow Fredegusto P. David tweeted on Tuesday. 

The virus reproduction number fell to 0.95 on Aug. 26 from 0.99 on Aug. 19. “A reproduction number of less than one indicates decreasing infections.”

The current average daily attack rate in the region was 5.98 per 100,000, which is considered low, Mr. David said.

The positivity rate in the capital region had also fallen to 12.7% as of Aug. 25 from 14.6% a week earlier.

The healthcare use rate for COVID-19 in the region remained low at 33.3%, while intensive care unit occupancy was 25.8%, the OCTA fellow said. 

Mr. David said at the weekend daily coronavirus infections in the Philippines could fall to fewer than 1,000 by mid-September.

But Rontgene M. Solante, a member of the Health department’s technical advisory group, said on Monday infections in the country would likely increase as more students attend face-to-face classes.

Filipinos are expected to hold more gatherings such as parties during the Christmas holidays. The Philippines had experienced infection surges in the past holidays, with the highly infectious Omicron variant spreading locally as early as January this year.

Mr. Solante said the highly infectious Omicron subvariant BA.5 has been in the Philippines for four to six weeks.

“It’s the dominant variant globally. This is the most evasive subvariant. Those who have been vaccinated could still catch the virus. Those who have been infected before could be infected again.”

He said the BA.5 has descendants that are also infectious, such as the BA.5.1 and BA.5.2.

“Variants of concern will be here for a longer period of time because we are vulnerable.”

Meanwhile, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said that it would no longer require university students and staff to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as face-to-face classes resume.

“I think CHED’s announcement is the success of anti-vaxxers,” Iloilo Rep. Janette L. Garin told a news briefing. The anti-vaccine group is a very strong lobby group that is also well-organized, she said.

Ms. Garin, a former Health secretary, called on the presidential palace to step in and decide what is best for the people. “It’s now the president’s call because only the president can make sure that when people in government do their job, they will be protected.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Kyanna Angela Bulan

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