DOH won’t claim COVID-19 under control
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines cannot declare anytime soon that it has already contained the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, according to Heath Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Vergeire explained that more assessments and evaluations are needed before the country could positively say it has controlled the virus.
“We can’t definitely say that. We are not going to declare this soon. There are still a lot of uncertainties. We experienced in the past when cases dropped for a time but then it again increased. So we need a longer period of time to assess and evaluate what’s happening,” she said.
Vergeire issued the remark a day after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the country wanted to seek the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO) in determining the current status of the pandemic situation in the country, following a series of Department of Health (DOH) bulletins from the past few days showing a positivity rate of below 5 percent.
According to the WHO, a positivity rate of below 5 percent should be maintained for at least 14 days—the maximum incubation period—to indicate that COVID-19 has been contained in the country.
Positivity rate refers to the percentage of people who test positive for the virus out of the total number of those who have been tested within a time frame. It indicates the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading within a community.
But Vergeire said the DOH was just coordinating with the WHO on the process and the determinants of disease control or containment.
“We have different setting, different situation in every region. Maybe here in the National Capital Region we have high vaccination rates and its community response has been intensified. But if we compare it to other areas in the country, some still have low vaccination rates,” she said.
“We still need to help some of the local governments to intensify their community response,” she added.
Vergeire also said the Philippine health system must be prepared for it to be able to declare that it has controlled an illness.
“We need to study this further, evaluate it further because there are still a lot of uncertain things at this point,” she said.
On Thursday, the DOH recorded 975 more new COVID-19 cases, bringing active case count to 17,796, accounting for 0.6 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the country.
Of the active cases 52.7 percent were mild, 21.49 percent moderate, 5.4 percent asymptomatic, 14.4 percent severe, and 6 percent in critical condition.
The DOH also reported that 1,029 people recovered from the respiratory illness, bringing the total number of recoveries to 2,763,947.
The death toll climbed to 47,875 with 193 new fatalities.
Citing the test results of 38,961 people last Tuesday, the DOH said the country’s COVID-19 positivity rate was at 2.8 percent.
At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allayed fears over adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines as it reported that the side effects recorded following immunization was still “very well within the usual” and “acceptable” level.
“The data we’re getting at less than 1 percent of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) was within the allowable limit, very well within the acceptable levels both for adults and children,” said FDA general Eric Domingo.
He said that as of Nov. 21, FDA data showed a total of 76,837 AEFI or 0.1 percent of more than 75 million vaccinations since the Philippines started rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in March 2021.
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