MANILA, Philippines — Daily coronavirus cases in the country could hit 8,000 by end of March if the surge underway is not controlled, a member of the OCTA Research team said Sunday.
The rising number of infections in recent days — particularly the flat 5,000 on Saturday — saw the Philippines reaching new record highs.
Prof. Guido David over ABS-CBN's Teleradyo said the latest projection comes as the virus' reproduction rate is now seen at 1.9 from just 1.6 in the previous week.
"Aabot tayo ng mga 5,000 to 6,000 sa Metro Manila by end of March," he said. "So ganoon kataas 'yung trajectory, and sa buong Pilipinas puwede tayong umabot ng 7,000 to 8,000."
(Cases in Metro Manila per day could hit between 5,000 to 6,000 by end of March. That's how high the trajectory is and for the entire country it could reach 7,000 to 8,000.)
Saturday's new cases was the highest so far since August 2020, the last time a nationwide surge was seen.
But the 5,000 more Filipinos who contracted the COVID-19 came on top of crucial developments on the crisis at home: health officials said the variant first seen in Brazil has reached the country, 59 more had contracted the variant from the United Kingdom, 32 more got the one from South Africa, and they detected the first variant coming from the Philippines.
David sought to stress that government, which had claimed an "excellent" response to the pandemic, should move to curb the surge as it may soon overwhelm hospitals.
"Kapag umabot tayo ng kahit 6,000 [a day], mao-overwhelm na 'yung hospitals natin," he said. "Ngayon pa lang medyo napupuno na sila..65% na 'yung ICU occupancy sa Metro Manila. 'Pag umabot 'yan ng 70%, nasa critical level na 'yan according to the Department of Health."
(Hospitals will be overwhelmed if we reached just 6,000 a day. By now, ICU occupancy in Metro Manila is already at 65%. If it reaches 70%, that's already the critical level.)
Asked how the daily picture could look like by mid-April, David put his estimates at between 18,000 to 20,000 cases for the country although he said he will need to check figures further.
"Hindi tayo nananakot," he said. "Wala namang fear-mongering sa science. Sinasabi lang natin ito 'yung maaaring mangyari at 'yung projections namin nagkatotoo, in fact, mas mabilis na siya ngayon kaysa original...wala naman itong hokus-pokus."
(We are not scaring anybody. There is no fear-mongering in science. We only report what could happen and our projections have been true. In fact, they are becoming faster than what we originally made. There is no 'hokus-pokus' in this.)