Pasay, other NCR cities showing signs of variant-driven surge – OCTA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3) — A day after the South Africa variant reached the country and more cases of the UK variant were recorded, OCTA researchers on Wednesday said the case surge in parts of Metro Manila — particularly in Pasay City — is showing signs of the presence of these more contagious variants.

Their recent projections show from an average of 900 daily cases in the National Capital Region, it could reach over 2,000 if the reproduction rate continues to shoot up. It is currently at 1.36, meaning more than one person is infected by a COVID-19 patient.

OCTA said Pasay City — where there are three cases of the South Africa variant called B.1.351 — 21 people per 100,000 are getting infected. Cases in Makati, Quezon City, and Manila City are also seeing a two-week surge.

"The ongoing surge in Pasay City and the NCR has the hallmark of a variant-driven surge," OCTA fellow and molecular biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco told a media briefing. "When you see this pattern, especially if it is repeating itself in more LGUs, you are very concerned that what you're dealing with here is a variant."

Austriaco said the trend seen in parts of Metro Manila are similar to the pattern in countries where the B.1.351 and B.1.17 or the UK variants became dominant, like what happened in United Kingdom, Israel, Portugal, and South Africa.

He added a UK variant-driven surge was also seen previously in Central Visayas, particularly in Cebu City. But OCTA said the situation in the region is improving after implementing stricter measures. The group said Metro Manila LGUs can further improve their testing, tracing, and isolation efforts, adding localized lockdowns can also be enforced.

The Philippines on Tuesday confirmed the first six cases of the B.1.351 variant, three of which are residents of Pasay City. The number of UK variant cases also went up to 87.

CNN Philippines correspondent Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.