MANILA, Jan 29 (Mabuhay) — Cebu province, including Cebu City, is now a cause of “serious concern” after a surge in coronavirus infections pushed the reproduction number of the virus to 1.57, experts from the OCTA Research group said Thursday.

In their latest report, the experts said Cebu averaged 147 new cases daily in the past week, a 67% increase from the week before.

“The reproduction number in Cebu province over the past week was 1.57, much higher than the reproduction number for the entire Philippines, which was 0.96,” they said.

A reproduction number of 1 or higher indicates continued COVID-19 transmission.

Cebu’s positivity rate over the past week also stood at 6% even after COVID-19 testing in the province rose by 10% to 2,400 tests per day.

“While the attack rate of Cebu was still below the high risk cutoff, the significant increase in new cases, if unmitigated, could pose challenges to the healthcare system of the province,” the experts warned.

They also pointed out that Cebu averaged 400 new cases daily the last time that it was placed under enhanced community quarantine, the most stringent lockdown classification.

“This number could be reached in two weeks if trends are not reversed. The concern right now is the possibility that the UK B.1.1.7 variant is spreading in parts of Cebu,” the OCTA group said.

Infections pick up in Iloilo, slow down in Mountain Province

Meanwhile, the report noted a “significant increase in new cases” in Iloilo, although the province’s attack rate remained low and its positivity rate stayed below 5%, meeting the benchmark of the World Health Organization.

The experts also said that the “growth of cases in Mountain Province, where the UK variant was identified, started to slow down as certain barangays were placed under lockdown.”

Health authorities earlier reported the detection of 12 cases of the UK variant in Bontoc town.

Five barangays in Bontoc have since been locked down while the entire Cordillera region has been placed under general community quarantine.

The OCTA group also saw a decline in cases in Isabela, Cagayan, Kalinga, Pangasinan, Benguet, Davao del Sur, and Misamis Oriental, while a slight increase was observed in Mindanao, Davao del Norte, and Cavite.

“Bukidnon, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and South Cotabato will continue to be monitored as they averaged more than 20 new cases per day over the past week,” the experts added.

In Metro Manila, the reproduction number of COVID-19 decreased to 0.93 while the positivity rate held steady at 4%.

A “leveling in trend” was also seen in the rest of Calabarzon and Central Luzon.

The Philippines has logged 519,575 cases as of Thursday afternoon. (MNS)

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