COVID-19 cases in NCR up 6% but reproduction number still below 1 —expert

November 26 ------ The number of new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila increased by 6 percent but the virus’ reproduction number in the country remains below one, an expert from the University of the Philippines-OCTA Research team said Wednesday. The reproduction number is the expected number of new infections an infected individual may cause in a population where everyone is susceptible. An amount lower than 1 means a flattened curve, the research team said. Interviewed on Balitanghali, Professor Guido David said the reproduction number remains at .83 despite an increase in new cases in the capital region.

David said nine out of the 17 local government units in Metro Manila had an increase in their number of cases. Among those who had the highest increases were Caloocan, Quezon City, Marikina, Mandaluyong, Parañaque and Pasay. He said the increase might have been caused by delayed results from several health centers due to the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses. “Hindi naman lahat ng LGUs nagkaroon ng increase, so ang mga possible explanations niyan ‘yong sa evacuation sa typhoon—not necessarily related sa evacuation mismo, pero it’s possible na may delayed result because during the typhoon may mga ibang health centers na nagsarado, so medyo late ‘yong pagdating ng reports nila so that is one possible explanation,” he said.

“Possible din naman ‘yong evacuation mismo na nagkaroon ng transmission sa ibang lugar lalo na dahil siyempre hindi naman nasunod ang protocols during evacuation siyempre bumabaha so expected naman ‘yan,” he added. David said it is also possible that new cases were triggered by the increase in mobility or because people are getting lax. It was reported earlier this week that shoppers came out in droves in places like Divisoria in Manila and Bulacan in Parañaque, with social distancing not observed—prompting the Department of Health to warn of the risks of infection in crowded areas, even among people wearing face masks.

“Although hindi kami sure kung ito ba ang explanation kasi hindi naman lahat ng LGUs sa Metro Manila nagkaroon ng increase,” he said. He also said cases in Central Luzon also increased, especially in Bulacan, Bataan and Tarlac. “Hindi ganoon kalaki pero may increase din… ‘Di pa natin sigurado kung nag-change ‘yong trend… Malalaman natin by next week,” he said.

Moreover, David said the trend is reversible, so he advised the public to maintain their efforts in sustaining it. “Kung patuloy na tumaas ang bilang ng kaso then we have to start being alarmed,” he said.