Daily COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila to drop to 2,800 starting next week - OCTA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 3) — The daily COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila is seen to drop from an average of 3,144 to 2,800 starting next week, the OCTA Research Group reported on Monday.

OCTA Research Fellow Ranjit Rye told CNN Philippines' The Source that COVID-19 cases will start to fall just below 3,000 by May 9 to May 15 for the capital region alone if the reproduction number stabilizes between 0.8 to 0.9 amid the prolonged modified enhanced community quarantine.

"Our projection tells us that if we work together, we will get something like 2,800 cases from May 9 to 15," Rye said, citing OCTA's Sunday report. "I would like to emphasize, that will go down slowly from now on because we are opening up a significant portion of the economy."

"The reproduction is somewhere between 0.8 and 0.9 and we need to stabilize it," he also said. "We have to make the MECQ work for this week and bring it down to below 0.8."

"If we sustain that we will have not just less cases, we will also have less overwhelmed hospitals," he added.

According to the OCTA report, the reproduction number in Metro Manila from April 25 to May 1 was last recorded at 0.83. The 3,144 average daily cases in the past seven days is 43% lower compared to the peak seven-day average of 5,551 in Metro Manila.

However, the region needs a further decrease in new COVID-19 cases to continue its recovery process, it said.

Meanwhile, hospital bed occupancy in Metro Manila decreased to 56%, while ICU bed occupancy remained at 71%, according to OCTA. Over 804 ICU beds were also occupied since the start of the surge.

But Philippine General Hospital spokesperson Jonas del Rosario told CNN Philippines' New Day that they are still 90% occupied to date.

"The last number was 226 out of the 250 beds that we have," he said. "At least we're not going overboard but our emergency room is still filling up with patients, and our ICUs are always full."

Del Rosario also said they "are managing okay" after developing a program that provides home care options for mild COVID-19 cases. However, they had to close their non-COVID wards to allow their workers to respond to COVID cases.

"We're hoping that if the numbers started going down then we can reopen some of our non-COVID operations, but we cannot afford it now," he said.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of the adult infectious diseases at San Lazaro Hospital, also told The Source they had a slight drop of 15% to 20% from their previous benchmark of 150 COVID cases in the past week.

Metro Manila can see a decline of less than 2,000 daily cases by June if the government, the private sector, and the people will work together to intensify testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment efforts, according to Rye.

"By end of May we'll most likely have less than 2,000, meeting the numbers before we had this terrible, terrible surge," he added.

Rye added: "If we work together, we follow the minimum public standard, we can sustain the downward trend."

Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while they can see a downward trend in hospital admissions, they have yet to find out whether the trend will sustain in the coming weeks.

"Nakakakita na tayo ng downward trend sa admissions at pagluwag sa mga ospital, but these are not significant yet..." she said. "Tingnan natin in the coming weeks kung patuloy na bababa, pati ang hospital capacity ay magkaroon na ng pagluwag, para masabi natin that we are on to the direction on having this decline in the number of cases."

[Translation: We are already seeing a downward trend in admissions, as well as hospitals getting a little more spacious, but these are not significant yet....We still need to monitor in the coming weeks if the downtrend will continue, including the easing of hospital capacity so we can truly tell that we are on to the direction of having this decline in the number of cases.]

Metro Manila and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are currently under an extended, but a more "flexible" MECQ until May 14, allowing more services such as dine-ins and personal care to operate at a lesser capacity.

On Sunday, the Philippines logged 8,346 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the nationwide tally to 1,054,983. The death toll has reached 17,431 while the number of survivors has increased to 966,080.