Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte strongly urged QCitizens experiencing Covid-19 like symptoms to isolate in order to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

At the same time, she asked QCItizens to be patient, as testing of both symptomatic patients and close contacts is being slowed down by an increased demand.

QC Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU) Head Dr. Rolly Cruz disclosed that there is now a high volume of requests from people who want to get tested.

“We observed a rapid increase in the number of people who want to get tested, mostly from those who experience symptoms such as colds and cough, which is also common during this season. The rise in numbers of persons wanting to be tested also affects the turnaround time in receiving their test results,” Dr. Cruz said.

Likewise, private laboratory Hi-Precision also reported an increase in the number of people lining up for COVID-19 tests in their branches.

According to Hi-Precision, their branches started testing more people beginning January 2; these individuals either experienced symptoms or had been exposed to a confirmed positive person during the holidays.

Given the high demand for testing and to efficiently maximize the resources of the city government when it comes to test kits, Dr. Cruz said that CESU will prioritize testing those who are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, especially among the unvaccinated, and high risk populations.

“We advise QCitizens who are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as colds, runny nose, cough or fever, to isolate themselves from their family members immediately,” Dr. Cruz said. “They can have themselves tested in our community-based testing sites after booking an appointment online or schedule home testing when circumstances demand,” he added.

In recent days, Quezon City and the rest of NCR + recorded higher COVID-19 cases. The OCTA Research Group reported an average of 333 new cases per day for the week of December 29 to January 3, compared to an average of 18 new cases during the week of December 21 to 28. This is an increase of 1750% over the course of one week.

Other COVID-19 indicators also increased such as reproduction rate, which is now at 4.79 from .60; average daily attack rate per 100,000, which is now at 10.46 from .60; and positivity rate now at 18% from only 1.8% last week.

According to OCTA Research Fellow Dr. Guido David, the sudden rise of current cases may even go beyond the peak of the Delta surge which happened in September 2021 when the positivity rate rose to 25%.

“We are not yet close to the peak of the Delta surge but at the rate things are going, it is very possible that we will reach it very soon. The numbers are increasing so rapidly and we might hit the previously recorded highest numbers by next week,” Dr. David said.

Since the local transmission of Omicron has already been established by scientific evidence, the Department of Health assumes that there are more Omicron variants in the community given its very high-transmissibility.

As of January 4, active cases in Quezon City are 3,560 (1.93%), deaths are at 1,632 (.89%), while recoveries are at 178,799 (97.18%).

Mayor Belmonte said that the city government is ready for the possibility of another surge as hospitals, quarantine and isolation facilities, testing areas, and vaccination sites are being prepared to accommodate more QCitizens.

“Even before the year ended, the city government created Task Force Omicron dedicated to reinforcing the strategies and mitigating the spread of the virus,” she said.

Mayor Belmonte also reiterated the importance of getting booster shots.

“We urge all to get their vaccine and booster shots so they may have increased protection against the virus.”

The city government is also implementing an intensive communications campaign and setting up more vaccination sites to encourage all QCitizens to get vaccinated or get their booster shots as soon as possible.