DOH plans to ease border restrictions for foreign travelers

The Department of Health (DOH) is considering recommending further easing of border restrictions due to COVID-19 for foreign travelers wishing to travel to the Philippines, an official said Tuesday.

COVID SITUATOR. This photo taken on September 16, 2022 shows a nurse treating a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Manila. AFP

At a Tuesday press briefing, DOH Deputy Secretary-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) would discuss the president’s directive to open the economy and ease border restrictions.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said the Philippines has recorded an average of only three COVID-19 deaths per day this month, which is lower than the 17 daily fatalities recorded in August.

Vergeire said current data could still show 200 confirmed deaths per day due to reporting delays.

“We have been transparent on this, we are telling you that there are delays in our reporting of deaths as the deaths are still being validated on the ground,” she said.

“Our lethality so far is still 1.6%. It has never exceeded 2%. We are able to keep the number of deaths in our country at this minimum,” she added.

While that’s low, she said, the DOH doesn’t want any deaths from infection.

Citing data from Google’s COVID-19 mobility trends, Vergeire said there was an increase in cases due to more people going out.

“We really saw after mid-August, the third week of August, mobility patterns were higher in Metro Manila and even in other areas,” she said.

She urged those who have not yet received their first set of COVID-19 shots to get vaccinated and those fully vaccinated to receive their booster doses, as higher mobility would mean a higher risk of transmission of the virus. infection.

As of September 18, nearly 72.9 million people have been fully immunized. Of this total, approximately 6.8 million are elderly, 9.9 million are adolescents and 4.9 million are children.

Nearly 18.9 million received their first booster dose and nearly 2.7 million received their second booster.

The Philippines has reported some 814 additional cases of highly contagious offshoots of the Omicron variant COVID-19, the DOH announced Tuesday.

The country recorded 688 new cases of Omicron BA.5, 16 more cases of BA.4 and 110 labeled as “other sublines,” the latest DOH figures showed.

Among the new BA.5 cases, several were found in Metro Manila (126), Western Visayas (104) and Cagayan Valley (75).

Most of the new cases of BA.4, meanwhile, were reported in Soccsksargen (12).

These are the results of the latest sequencing campaign conducted Sept. 16-19, the DOH said.

While previous “concerning variants” like Alpha and Delta eventually died out, Omicron and its sub-lines dominated throughout 2022.

Types BA.4 and BA.5 in particular have helped drive a wave of new cases of the disease in Europe and the United States in recent months.

All variants of Omicron tend to have a milder disease course as they settle less in the lungs and more in the upper nasal passages, causing symptoms such as fever, fatigue and loss of smell.

Last week, the Philippines recorded 14,707 new cases of COVID-19, the DOH said.

From September 12 to 18, the country recorded an average of 2,101 daily infections, 4% less than the previous week.

The Philippines recorded 1,600 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, up from 3,119 the day before, according to DOH data.

Tuesday’s tally of newly reported cases was the lowest since September 13 (1,574). Active cases also fell to 27,257 from 27,686 on Monday.

The country’s total caseload is now 3,925,326.

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