The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) has identified 1,272 barangays nationwide as having the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, averaging 137 cases over an eight-month period from September 2020 to April 15, 2021.
Such numbers compare to an average of 19 cases over the same period in 20,889 barangays. POPCOM however noted that 15,252 communities remained “COVID-free” then.
The agency has classified the 1,272 barangays as “high-population density (HD),” with populations ranging from 201 to 999 per hectare—well above the average of 200 persons per hectare. On the other hand, those with lower caseloads had populations below 200 per hectare and were labeled as “low-population density (LD)” and “medium-population density (MD)” communities. POPCOM’s classification covers 35,149, or 83%, of all barangays.
The community with the highest density in the Philippines, according to the agency, is Barangay 73 in Caloocan City, with a population of 19,506 inside 1 hectare.
Referencing numbers from the Department of Health (DOH), POPCOM recently released the latest version of its demographic vulnerabilities tool or DVT, which displays, based on its classifications, the latest figures on barangays, together with the effects of the pandemic in each of them. The agency gathered that 63.4% of barangays nationwide reported COVID-19 infections, with 11.5% tallying deaths in the same period.
In terms of COVID-19 linked deaths, 3,348 LDs and MDs had 6,186, or 1.84 per barangay. Inside HDs, there were 1,941 who perished—or 3.38 casualties—an average almost twice as many in less-densely populated barangays.
Closest projection, classification: Undersecretary for Population and Development Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH said that with this DVT, POPCOM was able to produce the “closest projection of densities in the country,” based on the agency’s proposed classifications, effectively accounting for about 90% of the population. He noted that, under ideal circumstances, there should only be about 200 persons living per hectare.
According to Perez, the latest iteration of the DVT will be useful for local government units (LGUs) in determining barangays with high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths for their pandemic-mitigation programs.
“Even LDs have higher-than-expected death rates not commensurate with the number of cases. This is because of the lack of access of residents’ to health-care facilities which are mostly located in cities or municipalities,” the POPCOM chief explained. “We can say that the lack of medical workers, as well as geographic limitations, pose impediments to their required level of medical care.”
He also emphasized that it is in these barangays where health protocols, as well as proper contact tracing, should be strictly implemented.
The undersecretary shared that POPCOM is recommending that the DOH and LGUs may use the new DVT as the basis for vaccination rollouts in the country, according to geographic priorities. In terms of family planning, barangays with high numbers of COVID-19 cases will also be monitored, as health systems in these areas remain compromised for related services.
Likewise, the commission strongly recommended the mobilization of composite teams in communities reporting high numbers of COVID-19-related cases and deaths, as well as unimpaired access to hospital care to LD barangays registering mortalities. For recovery strategies, vaccinations in the said areas should be prioritized. Family planning demand generation activities should also be strengthened there.
The agency will soon distribute the new DVT information to its partner agencies DOH, Department of the Interior and Local Governments and the National Economic and Development Authority. The three, including POPCOM, will focus their efforts in regional offices, which in turn, will disseminate the material to LGUs for use in addressing the COVID-19 situation in their respective areas. It will be continuously updated to reflect barangays where the contagion continues to spread.
Cases and deaths: Of the “NCR-Plus bubble,” the National Capital Region has the greatest number of very high-density barangays (VHDs) at 90, and HDs at 483. While Cavite has only four VHDs, it has 169 classified as HDs. Laguna has zero and 72, respectively; Bulacan, two and 14; and Rizal, zero and 18, in that order.
In terms of COVID-19-related deaths, in the bubble, LDs accounted for 53.53%, while HDs tallied 25.66%. For infections, HDs registered the most at 152,835, while LDs had 94,118. By density classification, 460 LDs had the greatest number of casualties at 924, while 373 HDs followed with 1,440 deaths.
In Luzon, Region III—excluding Bulacan—has the greatest number of VHDs at 14 and HDs at 84, followed by Region IV-A which has 1 and 79, in that order. In the Visayas: Region VII lists VHDs at 6 and HDs at 50, while Region VI has 5 and 89, respectively. Mindanao has the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with the most VHDs at 11 and HDs, 52; Region XI with 2 and 23; while Region IX has 3 and 20, respectively.
For COVID-19-related deaths, in Luzon, LDs accounted for 93.3% (8,680), while HDs tallied 3% (279). For infections, Luzon LDs registered the most at 96,222, while MDs had 9,887. By density classification, 1,111 LDs had the greatest number of casualties at 1,645, while 102 MDs followed with 196.
Still on deaths caused by COVID-19, in Visayas, LDs accounted for 93.71% (4,948), while HDs tallied 2.5% (132). For infections, Visayan LDs registered the most at 47,180, while HDs had 11,289. By density classification, 615 LDs had the greatest number of casualties at 958, while 93 MDs followed with 280.
With COVID-19 Mindanaoan deaths, LDs accounted for 93.97% (4,520), while MDs tallied 3.43% (165). For infections, LDs in the island-region registered the most at 47,148, while MDs had 8,217. By density classification, 663 LDs had the greatest number of casualties at 1,255, while 73 MDs followed with 288.
Click here to access our Demographic Vulnerabilities Tables: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1zk0CbYp2MDWQXz_25eG0tOwi1ixyykUZ