Population body finds population density also fuels Covid cases


There is relation between population density and number of cases for the coronavirus disease 2019, according to findings of the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM).

The agency has identified 1,272 barangays nationwide with 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.

And as it turned out, 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 percent, of all barangays.

POPCOM, however. noted that 15,252 communities remained “Covid-free” then.

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 percent of barangays nationwide reported Covid-19 infections, with 11.5 percent tallying deaths in the said 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, 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 percent 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.

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