The number of new daily COVID-19 infections may return to pre-surge levels by late February or March, an analyst from the University of the Philippines (UP) Pandemic Response Team said Sunday.
“In terms of projections, we hope that by the third week of February or March, the number of new cases will decrease. We’re still waiting for the provinces,” said Jomar Rabajante of the UP-Pandemic Response Team.
Currently, the bulk of new COVID-19 cases come from the provinces since the National Capital Region (NCR) is already in a declining phase, he said.
On Sunday, the country logged 16,953 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 3,545,680, the Department of Health said.
All laboratories were operational. However, one laboratory was not able to submit its data on time.
The country’s positivity rate was at 31.4 percent, way higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended target of less than 5 percent positivity rate.
The DOH also reported 20 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 53,891.
With 27,638 new recoveries, active cases stood at 202,864, of which 11,277 were asymptomatic; 186,550 were mild; 3,176 were moderate; 1,534 were severe; and 327 were critical.
But even as cases have started to decline in NCR, Rabajante said two COVID-19 indicators — the average daily attack rate (ADAR) and the positivity rate — remain high.
He also cautioned the public against being complacent.
The ADAR in Las Piñas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan and Taguig was still above 75 percent.
“This means they’re at a declining phase, but we still need to be careful beca use there’s still a lot of new cases,” Rabajante said.
Rabajante’s warning comes as he saw an increased mobility in the NCR during the previous week.
“There’s a lot of people going out of their homes because we’ve already peaked, in mid-January,” he said in Filipino. “People also know that cases in the NCR are probably declining.”
Rabajante said it is also possible that COVID-19 cases in Cebu and Davao del Sur have already peaked.
The team is also monitoring the situation in the Bangsamoro region due to high intensive care unit utilization.
Since late December, the Philippines has seen a quick rise in new COVID-19 cases, a wave of infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Nationwide, 46 percent of ICU beds, 47 percent of isolation beds, 49 percent of ward beds, and 25 percent of ventilators were in use as of Sunday.