Metric analysis

Government removes ‘alarmist metric’ in COVID alert level system

Manila Metro skyline at night (FILE PHOTO INVESTIGATOR / JILSON SECKLER TIU)

MANILA, Philippines — Outgoing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Tuesday that the positive two-week growth rate had been dropped as an indicator to determine the country’s alert level system, calling it “an unnecessary measure and alarmist.

“The two-week growth rate has lost its importance [and] relevance, and I think that’s an alarmist metric…and it’s unnecessary. We, the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC), the IATF and the experts have therefore reached a consensus to remove the two-week growth rate,” Duque told reporters at a media forum at a hotel in Manila. .

The remaining indicators would be the average daily attack rate (Adar), or the proportion of a population in a given area that has contracted the virus, as well as the healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) as it acted as the “two most accurate measures” of the COVID-19 situation, Duque said.

He cited cases in some regions that saw a 300% growth in COVID-19 infections simply because cases jumped from zero to three in a given period.

The revised measures would most likely bring some areas of Metro Manila back to “low risk”, he said.

The health department (DOH) over the weekend classified the cities of Quezon, Pasig, Marikina and San Juan as well as the municipality of Pateros under “moderate risk”. Other cities in the region remain at low risk.

The health chief added that for an area to be labeled as moderate risk, its Adar must be above 6 and below 18 per 100,000 people, and its HCUR must be between 50 and 70 percent.

Alert Level 1 Extended

Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Monday approved the extension of Alert Level 1 to Metro Manila and 85 provinces and major cities from 1-15 July.

A total of 166 component cities and municipalities were also placed under the least restrictive quarantine level for the same period.

36 provinces have been placed under alert level 2, not counting the cities and towns which are among the 166 already under alert level 1.

These are Benguet, Ifugao, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Antique, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Isabela City, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, North Cotabato, General Santos City, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao , Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

But health experts have warned that COVID-19 cases could rise in the coming days, with Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire predicting national daily infections to reach 5,300 cases in two weeks and 22,000 in one. months if mobility continued to increase and booster coverage remained low. .

Citing projections from the DOH syndromic surveillance feasibility analysis using the spatio-temporal epidemiological modeller, new daily cases could reach 5,362 by July 15 if compliance with minimum public health standards such as masking and physical distancing was reduced by 22%.

By the end of next month, daily cases could rise to 22,187 under the same scenario if health protocols are avoided, mobility restrictions remain eased and recall rates slow.

Peak mid-September

Separate forecasts from Australia’s Tuberculosis Modeling Network showed a spike in new cases in Metro Manila in mid-September could hit 1,784 if in-person class capacity increases by 90% when it opens. of the next school year in August.

COVID-19 cases continued to rise in all regions over the past week, but serious and critical infections remained below 1,000, Vergeire said.

Guido David, a member of Octa Research, based at the University of the Philippines, said COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila could reach up to 500 a day after the positivity rate hit 6 %, which is more than the World Health Organization’s recommended benchmark of 5%.

However, he said such an increase in the daily number of cases was not yet a cause for concern.

‘We are waiting [Metro Manila’s daily cases] reach eventually, perhaps between 400 [and] 500 this week. In fact, it was 434 cases [on Monday] but we can reach up to around 500 a day, but that’s not to worry about as the number is low compared to the previous wave,” David said in an interview during Laging Handa’s televised public briefing.

He noted that the one-week growth rate in Metro Manila was already 52% while the seven-day average was 342 cases.

RELATED STORIES

COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila could reach 500 a day this week – Octa

DOH projects up to 4,600 daily COVID-19 cases in NCR by mid-July

Daily average of COVID cases last week at 662, up 53%


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