New cases below 2K anew, but don’t ease guard–DOH
Although the daily number of new infections went down to less than 1,500 on Saturday, this shouldn’t lull the public into complacency as the threat of a postholiday spike in the number of COVID-19 cases remains, officials said.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier urged the public to strictly observe minimum health protocols (wearing of masks and face shields, observing physical distancing and frequent handwashing) as health authorities were already seeing indications of a potential surge.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said that even if the number of daily COVID-19 cases in the country rose to more than 2,000, this would not immediately result in a more strict quarantine.
There are other factors that would have to be first taken into consideration, including both the daily and the two-week average attack rate, Roque said.
Attack rate refers to the proportion of people who fall ill with a specific disease in a given population.
The critical care capacity, which refers to the number of available hospital beds and facilities for COVID-19 patients, is also another matter that would determine if quarantine rules would be tightened, Roque said.
At a recent briefing, he said 60 percent of intensive care unit beds were available and 71 percent for beds in wards. For ventilators, 80 percent were available.But Roque stressed that the available capacity should not make people complacent.
Vergeire said the Department of Health (DOH) was strictly monitoring compliance by hospitals with the directive to set aside a portion of their beds for COVID-19 patients in case of a spike in cases.
Public hospitals must dedicate 30 percent of the beds to COVID-19 patients, and this would be increased to 50 percent if there is a surge, she said. For private hospitals, it is 20 percent, and this would be increased to 30 percent in case of a surge.
The national COVID-19 case load stood at 458,044 on Saturday with 1,491 new cases reported.
Quezon City accounted for the most number of infections (129), followed by Rizal (102), Benguet (81), Davao City (75) and Laguna (54).The DOH had explained that during weekends, COVID-19 figures tend to be lower than the rest of the week as some laboratories slow down or shut operations for disinfection.
Growth rate ‘worsened’
And because COVID-19 has an incubation period of two to 14 days, the reported cases only reflects the situation two weeks earlier.
Nationally, the two-week case growth rate “worsened” from -16 percent to -4 percent, the DOH said. Metro Manila, Ilocos, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Cagayan Valley have also seen a trend reversal in their cases from “negative to positive growth.”
The number of new cases was highest in Metro Manila, CAR, Calabarzon and Davao.
Based on projections, Vergeire said that cases in Metro Manila “may reach upward of 4,000 per day which may overwhelm our health system capacity to upward of 80-percent utilization by end-January if we do not act aggressively to halt transmission now.”
The DOH recorded an additional 436 patients who recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of survivors to 421,086. The death toll rose to 8,911 after 36 more patients died.
The recoveries and deaths left the country with 1,491 active cases, of which 83.4 percent are mild, 8.8 percent asymptomatic, 0.3 percent moderate, 2.5 percent severe and 4.9 percent critical. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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