Philippines still ‘low risk’ for COVID-19: DOH

Pedestrians walk at a level crossing in the city of Makati on July 12, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines is still at low risk from COVID-19 despite rising new cases, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday.

In a media statement, the DOH said the country has an average daily attack rate of 2.52 cases per 100,000 population, and a bed and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rate below 29% and 24%, respectively.

“Even with the observed increase in cases, it is more important that our bed and ICU utilization rates remain low – which means our hospitals remain open and not overwhelmed,” the DOH said.

But Dr Tony Leachon, an advocate for preventive health education and health reform, said the government should not be content with low hospital utilization.

He said it was still necessary to prevent the spread of even mild infection to increase the country’s economic productivity.

“Kasi itong parang ginagawa natin right now, ‘Okay lang maraming cases tayo basta’t wala lang magla-land sa hospital.’ That’s the approach to prevent it. You also have to decrease the number of cases. And how do you decrease the number of cases? You have to protect the population to become resilient. “If you have cases, then you have a productive workforce,” Leachon said.

The DOH has recognized that there is still a need to improve immunization and booster coverage to help prevent severe and critical cases, as well as following proper sanitation and health protocols.

Active cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines on Saturday topped 33,000, with 3,996 cases recorded, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 3,772,468.

Health authorities attributed the slight increase in new COVID-19 cases to declining population immunity and the presence of omicron subvariants.

The positivity rate for July 24-29 is 16.2%, well above the World Health Organization’s benchmark of 5%.

The government announced on Saturday that Metro Manila and dozens of regions will remain under the country’s lowest COVID-19 alert level until August 15.

It also downgraded the alert status of 10 cities to Alert Level 1.

The Philippines recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on January 30, 2020 in a Chinese woman who arrived from the city of Wuhan, China, where the disease is believed to have first emerged. His vaccination program began on March 1, 2021.

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