The Department of Health (DoH) on Saturday noted the possibility that active Covid-19 cases in the Philippines may reach more than half a million by the second week of February.
“We can see the possibility that today’s number of active Covid-19 cases may double by 15 February,” DoH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a Laging Handa briefing.
The country logged 39,004 Covid-19 infections on Saturday, the highest single-day tally posted since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
This brought the country’s total caseload to 3,168,379 of which 280,813 are active cases.
It broke the previous record of 37,207 cases, which were registered only a day earlier.
While OCTA Research saw a steady decline in Metro Manila’s Covid-19 case growth rate, DoH expects that the number of Covid-19 cases will continue to rise despite the decelerating duration of the doubling of infections.
“The National Capital Region (NCR) now has around 149,000 active cases. We see that based on the projections of the experts and our cluster team — infection rates continue to grow. We are still yet to see the peak,” Vergeire said.
“Based on the trends, NCR now averages 17,124 cases per day compared to 6,500 average number of cases last week. Before, cases were doubling every two days. But now, the case doubling time slowed down, cases now double every four days. Despite this, cases continue to swell,” she explained.
There is already a community transmission of the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19 in NCR, she also confirmed.
Even if the overall genome sequencing run has been lagging behind, the DoH already determined that there are local cases of Omicron at present.
“We can really see the characteristics of the Omicron variant in the latest trends — the quick transmission, very steep rise in the number of cases, rapid case doubling time of every two days,” she said.
The official also stressed that the Omicron Covid-19 variant severely hit the unvaccinated people, partially vaccinated, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.
DoH classified five regions under “critical case risk classification”: NCR, Calabarzon, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region, and Central Luzon.
Moreover, Vergiere disclosed that DoH is now exploring the capability of the “KIRA chat box” for the self-reporting of positive Covid-19 cases from the self-administered antigen test kits.
Of the 39,004 fresh cases reported on 15 January, DoH said 98 percent or 38,271 were detected within the last 14 days (2 to 15 January).
Almost half or 47 percent of the new Covid-19 cases reported were detected in NCR with 18,142.
Calabarzon is the second leading region in the most number of fresh Covid-19 cases detected with 9,172 (24 percent), followed by Central Luzon with 3,325 (9 percent).