Lockdown threats in NCR ‘much lower’ amid Omicron: OCTA

Business activities have picked up since the government placed the National Capital Region (NCR) under Alert Level 2 as both public and private sectors want to give Filipinos a better Christmas season this year.

However, the Omicron variant of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) that emerged in November is bringing uncertainties, including another round of lockdown in Metro Manila.

Despite the news about the possible impacts of the Omicron variant, OCTA Research fellow Prof. Guido David said threats of another lockdown in NCR are “much lower” given the current state of the health care utilization in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

In a webinar organized by Cardinal Santos Medical Center Friday, David said between November 26 and December 2, 2021, the average number of new cases per day is 551 from 1,635 in the same period last year.

The positivity rate has gone down to 2.1 percent in the said period this year from 5.1 percent in 2020.

Occupancy of intensive care unit beds also declined to 27 percent from Nov.26 to Dec. 2, 2021, from 41 percent in the previous year.

David added that last year’s numbers were considered low at that time but it further went down this year despite the presence of Delta variant as many Filipinos get vaccinated.

He said based on available data, the surge in cases will be much slower in areas with vaccinate rate of at least 80 percent.

The NCR’s vaccination rate is above 80 percent.

Based on data from countries with the presence of Omicron, the new variant is more transmissible with a reproduction number of 10.

But by practicing minimum public health standards, the reproduction number goes down to five and it further declines to one for areas with a vaccination rate of at least 80 percent.

“Preliminary analysis shows that threat of a surge in the NCR is low,” David said, adding the worst case could be a light surge that could happen late January to early February next year.

OCTA Research fellow Ranjit Rye said the outlook for December for the country remains optimistic, but complacency should not be in place amid the threats of the Omicron variant.

“While Omicron is something all of us have to focus on, while it’s a variant of concern, OCTA believes this should not be a cause of panic. Much is needed to know the real threat of Omicron,” Rye said. “The worst thing that can happen now is to be relaxed.”

Another OCTA Research fellow and professor at the University of Santo Tomas, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco highlighted the need for the government to secure supplies of Covid-19 pills like Merck’s Molnupiravir and Pfizer’s Paxlovid.

These drugs would be a game-changer in the pandemic as anti-viral drugs would help decouple cases and hospitalizations.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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