By Corina Oliquino

MANILA — Professor Guido David from the OCTA Research Group told GMA News the reproduction rate of COVID-19 continues to go up in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“As of latest data, it is at 0.99 in NCR. It should be above one in 1-2 days, which is now a certainty,” Guido said, noting the reproduction rate was at 0.99 as of December 11.

From 0.88 last November, OCTA Research said NCR’s COVID-19 reproduction rate hit 0.90 on December 1, 0.94 on December 5 then 0.96 on December 10.

The group previously said that a value higher than one indicates the pandemic is spreading, with the World Health Organization (WHO) defining the reproduction rate as the average number of people infected by one person in a susceptible population.

“It looks like the increase is due to holiday mobility. The upward trend is real but it is not necessarily permanent and this trend is reversible,” David said.

Hard lockdowns during the holidays discouraged

In a report by The Philippine Star, OCTA Research Group said they are not recommending the implementation of hard lockdowns during the festive season despite an increase in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

“We would not recommend hard lockdowns as of the moment because these indicators, while they suggest an uptick (in cases) or high hospital occupancy, the situation right now in Metro Manila is actually the best it has been for three months now,” Guido said.

Guido said local government units may implement localized lockdowns within their cities and municipalities should there be a surge in cases.

“The country is currently on track to hit closer to the lower end of their projection of between 470,000 to 500,000 cases by the end of the year,” David said.

“It looks like we are going to reaching something like 475,000 to 480,000. But that is the current trajectory. If the situation worsens a little bit, we might get closer to 500,000 cases but right now that it not yet the case,” he added.

Stricter enforcement of health protocols

In another report by GMA News, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Año assured the public enforcement of minimum health protocols against the spread of COVID-19 will be stricter this Christmas season.

“Pagpasok ng December, kabi-kabilang anyaya ng party, kainan so hihigpitan natin ngayon,” Año said.

“Ang police visibility mas lalo natin ipapakita at ‘yung mga ating mga LGUs, barangay officials, barangay tanod iikot para ma-remind ‘yung mga tao na huwag na tayo mag-mass gathering,” he added.

Año told GMA News TV, authorities will also discourage Christmas parties and caroling.

“Itatawid lang naman natin itong 2020. By 2021, marami na tayong pag-asa. Baka makarating na rin sa atin ‘yung bakuna natin so konting antay, sakripisyo at tiis,” he added, reminding the public to observe physical distancing especially in Metro Manila where general community quarantine (GCQ) is still effective until December 31.

WHO warned people on December 11 to keep up their guard against COVID-19 and to think very carefully about holiday plans.

“As you prepare to celebrate over the coming weeks, please, please consider your plans carefully. If you live in an area with high transmission, please take every precaution to keep yourselves and others safe,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“That could be the best gift you could give — the gift of health,” he added. 

As of December 14, the Department of Health logged 1,339 new COVID-19 cases to push the total to 450,733.

At least 23,253 are active cases, with 41 new recoveries and 24 new deaths.