New COVID-19 cases declining but not fast enough, says DOH
MANILA, Philippines — The number of new COVID-19 cases detected daily in Metro Manila is dropping, but not fast enough, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday said the latest seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila was 1,226. While fewer than the previous week’s 1,500 average daily cases, the number was still a far cry from the 430 before the surge began last March.
“While we are seeing that cases are going down, we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still here and the threat that the [downtrend] will be reversed is still present,” Vergeire said in the daily media briefing. “What we want is to go back to the presurge numbers. That is our target.”
She reiterated the DOH’s appeal to avoid mass gatherings to minimize virus transmission.
Malacañang and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) also called on the public to exercise health protocols as they deplored reports of superspreader events that resulted in people catching the virus after violating restrictions on mass gatherings.
“It’s sad that after more than a year, there are a lot of superspreader events being reported. We have not yet developed [herd immunity] so we still need to follow minimum health standards. I know you are getting tired, but you’ve already waited more than one year, so why not wait for just a few more months? We are targeting to have 70 percent of us vaccinated by December,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press briefing from Dumaguete City.
Two confirmed superspreader events were in Quezon City where at least 54 people who joined pool parties and drinking and videoke sessions tested positive for the coronavirus.
Based on the city epidemiological and surveillance unit’s latest figures, three more tested positive as of Monday out of the more than 600 residents of Barangay Nagkaisang Nayon who underwent swabbing for COVID-19. They attended a “street pool party” on May 9, Mother’s Day, and a drinking-videoke party in a covered court on May 11 in violation of several health and quarantine protocols.
The community has been placed under a strict lockdown starting May 14.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte warned residents of stiff penalties and fines once caught organizing and joining large social gatherings that could lead to local outbreaks.
The DILG also reiterated the need to exercise discipline and self-control at least until the country has achieved herd protection.
DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the target of COVID-19 inoculation was 50 million Filipinos to achieve herd protection. There should be 70 million vaccinated persons for the Philippines to get herd immunity.
“We just reached 4 million (vaccinated Filipinos). It’s already a record for us but it’s still far off from herd protection,” Malaya said.
He reminded officials of the Philippine National Police and local governments, particularly barangay captains, that they would be held responsible for dereliction of duty or negligence should they fail to stop superspreader events in their areas.
On Monday, the DOH reported 4,973 additional confirmed infections, pushing total cases nationwide to 1,184,706. It tagged 6,666 people as recovered, bringing the number of total survivors to 1,115,806. On the other hand, COVID-19 fatalities rose to 19,983 after 39 more confirmed deaths, including 18 who were previously tagged as recoveries.
The DOH also said that one of the nine Filipino crew members of the MV Athens Bridge found infected with the COVID-19 variant first detected in India had died. Vergeire said the seafarer died on Friday while his eight colleagues had either recovered or were on the path to recovery.
—WITH REPORTS FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE, KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING AND JEROME ANING
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