OCTA sounds alarm over spike in Cebu cases


    THE independent OCTA Research Team yesterday sounded the alarm over the spike in new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu, warning that if the surge in cases is left unchecked, it may overwhelm the healthcare system in the province.

    The team said that over the past seven days, the province has averaged 147 new cases per day, much higher than the 11 average cases from December 17 to 23.

    OCTA also said the reproduction number in Cebu province over the past week was 1.57, much higher than the 0.96 reproduction number for the entire country.

    “The province of Cebu, including Cebu City, continued to have an increasing trend in new cases,” said OCTA.

    “The last time Cebu was placed under ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine), the province averaged 400 new cases per day. This number could be reached in two weeks if trends are not reversed,” it added.

    “If unmitigated, it could pose challenges to the healthcare system of the province,” OCTA said.

    On a national scale, the Department of Health reported 1,169 new cases, raising the number of infections in the country to 519,575.

    Quezon City recorded 57 new cases, followed by Isabela (54), Manila City (42), Davao City (42), and Rizal (42).

    Seventy-one more patients died, meaning the deadly virus has now claimed the lives of 10,552. This brings the case fatality rate in the country to 2.03 percent, said the DOH.

    There were 60 more recoveries, raising the number of survivors to 475,596.

    Of the 33,427 active cases, 84.8 percent are mild cases, 9.3 percent asymptomatic cases, 3.1 percent critical cases, 2.3 percent severe cases, and 0.47 percent moderate cases.

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the DFA main office in Pasay City will go on a lockdown until Tuesday next week after several of its officers tested positive for the deadly virus.

    Locsin, in a tweet after talking with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said he needs to go on a self-imposed quarantine since he interacted with his infected colleagues. He said he has tested negative so far.

    “Great conversation. Will get a lot done soon. Sadly, I must quarantine. I’m negative but the building and officers I met yesterday tested positive,” he twitted.

    Locsin did not say how many DFA officials tested positive.

    The PNP said 45 more cops have been infected with the deadly virus, raising the number of lawmen who have contracted the disease past the 10,000 mark.

    PNP Deputy Chief for Administration and PNP Administrative Admin Support to COVID Operations Task Force chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the number of infections in the PNP was expected.

    “Actually it’s not (a cause for concern). It’s not a cause for concern even though its (cases) is now 10,000,” Eleazar said. “It’s been (almost) a year now.”

    Eleazar said the PNP is a frontliner, or in the forefront of implementing community quarantine protocols, “so we really expect that (high number of cases), especially in Metro Manila.”

    Eleazar noted that fatality rate in the PNP is quite low at 28.

    “There is nothing to worry about and we have measures in place. The bottom line is we are observing protocols,” said Eleazar, adding the PNP has an “aggressive testing” with two molecular laboratories now in place.

    The 45 new cases reported Wednesday includes nine cops from the NCRPO, seven from the Cagayan Valley regional police, and five from the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame.

    Of the 10,001 total cases reported in the PNP, 9,383 have recovered while 590 are active cases.

    Meanwhile, two top officials of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) have been infected with the virus, according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

    He said that MRT-3 General Manager Rodolfo Garcia is currently at the ICU of an undisclosed hospital while MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael Capati is recovering.

    On Wednesday, MRT-3 management announced that 42 of its personnel tested positive for the virus and placed its depot in Quezon City under “enhanced access control.” – With Ashzel Hachero, Victor Reyes and Noel Talacay