Sun.Star Baguio

Octa warns Yuletide Covid surge

- Maria Elena Catajan Sun*Star Reporter

OCTA RESEARCH warned possible Covid -19 surge this Yuletide but urged everyone to be mindful that the virus is still here and is very much a clear and present danger to all.

“We believe that there is still much that can be done by the government, the private sector, and by civil society in the next fortnight to prevent

an uncontroll­ed post-holiday surge in Covid-19 cases in the New Year, we believe this is achievable if all of us work together to prevent significan­t relaxation of restrictio­ns and behavior over the holiday season. In our view, a substantia­l relaxation of restrictio­ns and behavior during this season may result in exponentia­l increases in transmissi­on and prevalence, potentiall­y leading to an uncontroll­ed post- holiday surge in Covid- 19 cases in the New Year,” Octa said.

Octa research marked the city’s return to the high risk circle with Mankayan, in Benguet, as the only areas in Luzon in the cluster, for the National Capital region tagged is Makati City and for the Mindanao island cluster, Davao City (Davao del Sur), not one area in the Visayas was listed as high risk.

The Octa team said Baguio logged 16 cases a day from the period of November 24 to 30 and 32 cases a day from December 1 to 7 with an attack rate of 6.3% and a hospital occupancy of 68%.

For the areas like Baguio in the “high risk” list, the group of experts urge the local government units (LGUs) concerned to further intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation to reverse the increase in transmissi­ons in their communitie­s and implement more aggressive and effective localized lockdowns with stricter border controls to suppress further viral transmissi­ons.

Octa added effective and stricter border controls must be in place to mitigate Covid- 19 transmissi­ons within and between provinces together with more effective screening and other controls in ports and airports will be crucial to supporting the government’s plans to expand domestic as well internatio­nal travel in the country.

The independen­t research group said while the country celebrates the Yuletide, “we must all be mindful that the virus is still here and is very much a clear and present danger to us all. We must also remind ourselves that the current positive trends in the NCR and in the Philippine­s are very tenuous and can easily be reversed if the government, the private sector, and the public become less vigilant and complacent in the fight against Covid-19.”

Octa appeallead to citizens to avoid not just crowded and enclosed areas, but also to refrain from joining or organizing social gatherings this Christmas season.

The study cites evidence from Europe and North America that increased social mixing among households are driving the second wave of Covid-19 in these parts of the world.

“To prevent a similar wave here in the Philippine­s, we encourage the government and LGUs to enforce the current GCQ limit of 10 persons per gathering in the NCR and to discourage office parties and other social events, especially as we approach the Christmas season. Family gatherings like bubbles should be limited to the immediate family, and gatherings should also be limited in size. If larger gatherings have to happen, they should be celebrated outside ( in open- air/ wellventil­ated venues) to mitigate transmissi­ons, we support the government efforts as it gradually reopens the economy to enhance the livelihood of our people. However, we urge the national government to rethink its directives that may increase the chances of dangerous ‘super-spreader’ events as these can trigger another wave. We should be especially cautious of impact of these directives as we approach the Christmas holidays.”

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