MANILA — The OCTA Research Group through fellow Guido David told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo the NCR Plus Bubble composed of Metro Manila and nearby provinces should be enforced to protect the areas from COVID-19’s Delta variant and to allow the economy to continue running. 

“‘Yung idea naman ng bubble, I think nag-work naman siya a few months ago nung nagka-surge tayo. Kabaligtaran lang ang mangyayari ngayon. Ang bubble natin is designed to protect NCR Plus from the outside para ‘di makapasok dito basta-basta ang mga variant na yan,” David said. 

“‘Pag may bubble tayo at protected tayo dito sa loob ng NCR Plus, di tayo ma-affect from outside at patuloy ang ekonomiya natin,” he added. 

In a report by TV PatrolOCTA and David said that there could already be local transmission of the Delta variant in the country since the release of genome sequencing results is not real-time. 

“Baka may pagkalat na ng Delta variant sa bansa natin pero di natin alam kung nasaan siya,” David said.

“Ang the best na magagawa natin is tinitingnan natin ‘yung datos kung saan may tumataas na bilang na kaso. Para sa akin kahit di na natin hintayin ‘yung confirmation na ‘yun. I-assume na lang natin na may Delta variant somewhere sa Pilipinas na kumakalat. Kailangan maging pro-active na tayo,” he added. 

David estimates a repeat of the March-April surge when 5,000 to 10,000 cases were recorded per day if a Delta variant transmission occurs. 

The Department of Health (DOH) is convinced that it needs to beef up the country’s genome sequencing capability to know patients’ variant of COVID-19. 

Currently, DOH can process up to 750 samples or less than one percent of the total COVID-19 cases logged on a weekly basis. 

“We are not covering the entirety of all of those turning positive because of our capacity. We recognize the fact na kailangan mag-expand tayo para mas ma-test ‘yung iba pa,” DOH Undersec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said. 

As of now, three of the 35 confirmed Delta variant cases have died: a 63-year-old MV Athens crew member, a 78-year-old woman from Antique and a 58-year-old woman from Pandacan, Manila. 

“The Delta variant is highly transmittable. It’s 43 to 90 percent transmissible than the UK variant. Ang Delta variant can infect up to eight persons in just one sitting,” Vergeire said.

‘Total Health’

In another report by ABS-CBN Newsthe Duterte Administration is eyeing “total health” after the country detected cases of the Delta variant. 

Last Friday, the DOH said that of the 16 Delta variant cases, 11 were locally-acquired cases. 

“We are aiming to promote total health,” Roque said when asked if government would tighten protocols, noting authorities want to curb the variant’s spread while also preventing more people from going hungry should parts of the country be placed under stricter lockdown. 

“Ang ating stratehiya, hanggat maaari, we will have localized lockdowns, nang sa gayoon makapagpatuloy na makapaghanapbuhay ang ating mga kababayan,” Roque said in a press briefing. 

Meanwhile, Private Hospitals Association Philippines said on Monday its members do not have enough personnel to man additional beds to adhere with the DOH’s directive to raise capacity in case there will be a Delta variant surge.

Private Hospitals Association Philippines President Dr. Jose Rene Degrano said private hospitals can add more beds but it will be short-staffed to care for moderate to critical patients.

Dr. Degrano said that majority of hospitals have already allotted 20 percent of their bed capacity to COVID-19 patients. 

“Laging nakahanda, ang nagiging limitasyon lang namin ngayon po kulang talaga ang aming staff, nurses,” he said. 

As of Monday, the Philippines has a total 1,513,396 COVID-19 cases after logging 5,651 additional infections.