New coronavirus cases in the Philippines may surpass 20,000 daily if government interventions to avert the further spread of the highly infectious Delta variant fail, an official of the University of the Philippines COVID-19 response team said Sunday.

Dr. Jomar Rabajante, spokesman for the UP team, said their projections were based on the continued spike in COVID-19 cases all over the country, with more than 16,000 on Saturday and the highest ever tally at 17,231 the day before.

“Inaasahan natin na sa mga susunod na araw, posible pang tumaas, umabot ng more than 20,000” (Daily cases could possibly reach more than 20,000 in the coming days), Rabajante said over Dobol B TV.

Also, Rabajante said that the country’s positivity rate — or percentage of positive COVID-19 test results — is “alarming” at 25%, given World Health Organization’s standard of less than 5%.

This means more cases could still be undetected, he noted.

“Posible pa itong tumagal sa mga susunod na buwan, (This situation could stay on in the next few months),” Rabajante said as he sounded the alarm.

Department of Health (DOH) data on Saturday showed that  25.2% of 65,808 conducted RT-PCR tests turned out positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Health care utilization in hospitals also worsened as occupancy rate across the country and Metro Manila is more than 70%.

Further, Rabajante said vaccination should continue so that hospitals will not be overwhelmed.

Vaccine target unachievable by December

With authorities having difficulties securing more vaccine supply, Rabajante said herd immunity for the whole Philippines is not achievable by the end of 2021.

DOH latest figures on vaccination show that 12.87 million people have been fully inoculated, so far, still far off from the 70-million target to achieve herd immunity.

“May mga ilang LGUs ay kaya hanggang December pero depende sa supply na darating. Ready po sila, kaya ng capacity ng vaccination hub,” Rabajante said.

(Some LGUs may be able to hit their target number by December, depending on the vaccine supply. They are ready, vaccination hubs have the capacity.)

“Pero kung titingnan natin buong Pilipinas, malabo labo ang December [timeframe] dahil marami pang probinsya ang wala pa talaga,” he added.

(But if we look at the whole country, achieving herd immunity by December is still unclear, because some provinces are still not vaccinating their residents.)

Rabajante reiterated his call for people to get vaccinated even if they still get infected after inoculation, because COVID-19 jabs prevent severe infections. —LBG, GMA News