The COVID-19 positivity rate of Metro Manila dropped to 16.4 percent on Aug. 12, the first time it has done so in the current wave of infections, the independent OCTA Research Group said Sunday.
The positivity rate, which refers to the percentage of people who were found positive for COVID-19 among the total number of people tested—had declined from 17.5 percent on Aug. 6, OCTA fellow Guido David said.
“This is the first time in the current wave the weekly positivity rate decreased, and it gives us optimism that cases in the NCR (National Capital Region) may have already peaked,” he said.
Despite this, David said, the number of COVID-19 cases is still increasing in the NCR at a rate of 5 percent.
However, he said this was low compared to the rate of growth before, which went as high as 50 percent.
Meanwhile, the Quezon City government said on Saturday that their COVID-19 positivity rate increased from 15.2 percent to 17.9 percent, citing OCTA’s data from August 2 to August 8.
The recorded new COVID-19 cases in the city also went up from 245 to 279 over the same period.
The city’s reproduction number or the number of people infected by one case, however, decreased to 1.23.
“The city remains at moderate risk level due to increased risk exposure to COVID-19.),” the Quezon City local government said.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that the government will gradually follow the United States’ model of loosening COVID-19 restrictions.
DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the country is taking the same direction as the US, where the health care system will only “protect the most vulnerable.”
“We are here to live with the virus because we know that the virus will stay. What is important is, and I think the US government also has that kind of objective, that we will protect the most vulnerable, we will protect our health care system from being overwhelmed, and will try to prevent as much as possible severe and critical cases and deaths,” Vergeire said on Friday.
Vergeire said the Philippines needs to increase its immunity before lifting restrictions. For now, she said the DOH is pushing for individual responsibility among Filipinos for everyone’s protection.
According to the latest DOH data, 72 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 17 million of whom have received their booster shots.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had earlier recommended the lifting of the following restrictions: physical distancing, quarantine, and testing for asymptomatic patients with no exposure.
It has also recommended limiting contact tracing to health care personnel and other high-risk settings.
The CDC said the United States is now in a better condition to protect the public from severe COVID-19 infection.
Although the loosening of restrictions does not mean that the pandemic is over, it aims to help the public to return to their normal lives without having to worry about the coronavirus.
“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” CDC Field Epidemiology and Prevention Branch chief Greta Massetti said.
“We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” she added.
Also over the weekend, the DOH advised students to keep their mask on, wash hands, sanitize with alcohol and check their temperature while inside the campus.
This, as the DOH acknowledged that maintaining social distancing in classrooms will be “impossible.”
“We are all going to live with the virus so we all need commitment to protect ourselves and the children,” Vergeire said on “24 Oras.”
The DOH also encouraged parents and students to get vaccinated against the viral disease.
Vergeire said teachers and non-teaching personnel who will interact with the children must be vaccinated—a view the Department of Education does not share.
The DepEd said it is constantly coordinating with the DOH in putting in place protocols to keep the students safe ahead of the return of face-to-face classes on Aug. 22. But it has also said that vaccination for teachers and students is voluntary, and that there would be no discrimination of those who are unvaccinated.