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PH COVID cases may peak to over 20k a day, before tapering off by Feb—OCTA Research

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 05, 2022 2:54 pm

The country's daily COVID-19 infections may peak to over 20,000 in a week, and taper off toward next month similar to the experience in South Africa, where the highly transmissible Omicron variant was first detected, OCTA Research said.

During the Jan. 5 Laging Handa briefing, Guido David of OCTA Research said they're expecting about 10,000 to 11,000 new infections on Wednesday (Jan. 5), where 8,000 of which will be coming from Metro Manila.

"By next week, madadagdagan pa iyan, posibleng dumoble pa. Aabot tayo ng 20,000 plus," David said.

David, however, pointed out that the nationwide hospital occupancy rate is still on the safe zone at 34%.

"So far, ang pinakabinabantayan natin ay maganda pa namang numero iyong healthcare utilization," he said. "Mababa pa naman iyan at malayo pa sa 70% na critical level threshold."

Citing South Africa's Omicron variant surge which lasted for about a month, David is hoping that our COVID-19 numbers would likewise decline toward the end of January, especially that many Filipinos have already been vaccinated against the disease.

"May chance na kalagitnaan ng January, doon na natin makikita ang peak. At doon magsisimula nang bumaba," he said. "Iyan ang inaasahan natin, best case scenario."

"But again, marami pang uncertainty. Di natin masisigurado o masasabi ang magiging karanasan natin," he added.

South Africa's health department has reported a 29.7% decrease in new weekly cases ending Dec. 25, at about 89,000, vis-à-vis its previous week's tally of about 127,000. Hospital admissions in the country have also gone down.

Omicron preparations

Department of Health (DOH) Sec. Francisco Duque, meanwhile, said they've held several meetings with officials from Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon in preparation for the possibility of local transmission of the Omicron variant.

"Pinaghahandaan na natin iyan. In fact, nakalimang meetings na kami," Duque said in the same Laging Handa briefing.

Duque also emphasized that the recent surge in cases cannot be attributed to the Omicron variant alone, saying the Delta variant is still around.

To date, the country has detected 14 Omicron cases, three of which are local ones.

The DOH earlier cited studies saying that one Omicron case can infect up to 10 people, vis-à-vis Delta's 8.

Duque also urged home care for mild COVID-19 cases, saying that while Omicron is more transmissible, it appears to be milder than Delta.

"So baka mas maganda, para hindi mabilaukan ang mga ospital, sa bahay na lang," he said. "Pero wala pang policy patungkol diyan. Bubuuin pa iyan ng (Inter-Agency Task Force) batay sa rekomendasyon ng technical advisory group of experts."

In the meantime, Duque said observing minimum health standards is the "most effective way" to fight COVID-19, regardless of the variant.

Last Jan. 4, the DOH reported 5,434 new daily cases, as the nationwide tally stood at 2.86 million. Of the 25,704 individuals tested, 26.5% of them turned out positive.

The Philippines will remain under Alert Level 3 from Jan. 3 to Jan. 15 in a bid to arrest the increase in cases.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has also mandated unvaccinated individuals in the capital to stay at home unless it's for essential travel.