A Catholic bishop reminded people to be wary of the continuing spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines even as authorities intensified the enforcement of public health standards in the capital starting Thursday, September 16.
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao also urged Filipinos to have themselves vaccinated against the coronavirus disease, saying that a vaccine will help prevent complications from the disease.
“Let us continue to observe protocols for our health and safety. Let us continue washing our hands, using face masks and face shields, and continue praying,” said the prelate.
Under the new public health standards enforced in Metro Manila, religious gatherings are allowed but are limited to ten percent of the capacity of the church or house of worship.
On Thursday, the health department reported 21,261 new COVID-19 cases while 13,644 were reported to have recovered from the disease.
An independent pandemic monitor, OCTA Research, however, said the national capital’s COVID-19 reproduction number is decreasing.
OCTA Research senior fellow Guido David said Metro Manila’s current reproduction number, or the average number of people who could be infected by one positive case, has decreased to 1.28 from the previous 1.34.
“[The National Capital Region] reproduction number decreased to 1.28 (with an error margin of up to +0.05). 1-week growth rate decreased to 9%. NCR has not yet peaked but there is hope that it may happen in 1-2 weeks,” he said in a tweet.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, meanwhile, said at least 91 percent of provinces and cities in the Philippines are still classified as high risk for COVID-19.
Of these areas, 82 percent have high health care utilization and intensive care utilization rates.
Under the Department of Health’s metrics, areas are classified as high risk if more than 70 percent of its COVID-19 hospital beds and ICU beds are occupied.
The National Capital Region, where nearly 60 percent of the population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, remains to record most of the country’s new coronavirus infections.