OCTA pushes intensified swab test as cases drop

Metro Manila should double its COVID-19 testing capacity to 60,000 a day to handle any sudden upsurge in cases, a researcher tracking the pandemic said Sunday.

Guido David of the OCTA Research Team said that while cases are declining now to an average of more than 3,000 a day in Metro Manila, testing capacity should be doubled in case new infections shoot up again.

“If we prepare for future surges our testing capacity should be at least doubled,” David told GMA News Online.

Guido said the average number of new COVID-19 cases nationwide went down by 11 percent during the last seven days, but this should not be seen as the effect of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) that is now in place.

The Philippines logged 8,346 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 1,054,983, as seven laboratories failed to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.

Seventy-seven new fatalities brought the COVID-19 death toll to 17,431, which is 1.65 percent of the total cases.

The DOH also reported 9,072 new recoveries, bringing the number of people who have recovered from the disease to 966,080, which is 91.6 percent of the total.

Active cases stood at 71,472, which is 6.8 percent of the total. Of the active cases, 94.7 percent were mild, 1.9 percent were asymptomatic; 1.1 percent were critical; 1.4 percent were severe; and 0.9 percent were moderate.

The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 64 percent of the ICU beds, 45 percent of the isolation beds, 51 percent of the ward beds, and 43 percent of the ventilators were in use.

In Metro Manila, 70 percent of the ICU beds, 50 percent of the isolation beds, 62 percent of the ward beds, and 54 percent of the ventilators were in use.

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo said if the government falls short of vaccinating 300,000 people a day, the Philippines would have to wait until 2031 to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.

Robredo’s spokesman, Barry Gutierrez, said there is a need to vaccinate over 300,000 Filipinos every day or 2 million people weekly to achieve herd immunity. But with a limited supply of vaccines, only 35,000 people are being vaccinated daily, he said.

“So we need to make the rate of vaccination faster by almost 10 times, but Secretary (Carlito Jr.) Galvez is saying that by August, it is possible to vaccinate 2 million to 3 million people every week,” he said.

At that rate, Gutierrez said, the country could attain herd immunity—inoculating 70 million out of 100 million Filipinos – before 2021 ends.

“If the country can do that, we can overcome the problem we are facing,” Gutierrez said.

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