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Don't let guard down: Drop in COVID-19 cases slower in four regions – FDA chief

Don't let guard down: Drop in COVID-19 cases slower in four regions – FDA chief

MANILA, Philippines — The drop in COVID-19 infections in four regions has been slightly slowing down and may need government attention to prevent surges, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Eric Domingo said in a taped briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte that aired late Monday night.

The average reported COVID-19 cases have been going down, but four regions have registered a slower decrease in infections, Domingo said.

These areas are Mimaropa (Region 4-B), Bicol (Region 5), Central Visayas (Region 7), and Eastern Visayas (Region 8).

“The downtrend is continuous, but there was a slowdown in the downtrend in these regions. So we have to monitor them more closely,” Domingo said, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino.

To illustrate, he presented the average daily attack rate (ADAR) — or the rate of infection per 100,000 people of a particular area — in those areas.

In Mimaropa, he pointed, the ADAR decreased only slightly — from 7.68 to 6.96 — and its growth in cases decreased by only 9 percent in the past two weeks.

Here are the other ADAR decreases registered by the areas mentioned:

  • Bicol Region — from 5.68 to 4.38
  • Central Visayas — from 5.25 to 3.68
  • Eastern Visayas — from 3.04 to 1.83

In contrast, the ADAR of the following regions jumped down significantly:

  • Cordillera Administrative Region —  from 49.00 to 25.72)
  • Ilocos Region (Region 1) — from 34.41 to 17.64
  • Metro Manila — from 17.46 to 8.26

However, these three areas, along with the Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9), are still classified as moderate risk areas, while the rest of the other regions are classified as low risk.

“And hopefully, in the next few weeks, these areas [Cordillera, Ilocos, and Metro Manila] will also be under a low-risk classification.  These are what we have to focus on, and we will continue to be careful,” he said.

On the whole, however, the drop in COVID-19 cases has been encouraging, Domingo noted.

“We can see in the daily reported cases that they are going down in the entire Philippines,” he added. ºThis week, we went down by 35 percent as compared to last week.  Last week, the decrease was only 31 percent.”

“The decrease in cases has been very steep. And while we see many cases in regions like the NCR [National Capital Region, or Metro Manila], the cases in other regions have been uniformly dropping, especially those [badly] hit by COVID-19 cases,” he added.

COVID-19 cases in the country, especially in Metro Manila, have dropped significantly after the Delta variant-led surge last August and September.

Last Saturday, independent analytic group OCTA Research said that the reproduction rate for the entire Philippines had dropped to 0.52.

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