Galvez warns: PH could see spike in COVID-19 cases just like South Africa
MANILA, Philippines — Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has warned the public and national officials that the Philippines could see a rise in COVID-19 cases between the next two weeks to a month, just as South Africa is also seeing a rise in its COVID-19 cases at present.
Galvez told President Rodrigo Duterte during the latter’s Talk to the People briefing aired Wednesday morning that South Africa’s COVID-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant were on an uptick a few days ago.
He cited a graph showing that when Omicron cases started to rise in South Africa last November 2021, the Philippines saw its own infection rates spike by late December to January — or around a month after South Africa.
Galvez said such trends could be repeated.
“Based on this graph, the new South African variants are making an uptick, and it’s a matter of time that the Philippines will follow, maybe two weeks or a month from now, as predicted by experts,” Galvez told Duterte.
“Kasi nakita natin sa Europe din po, sa Germany, sa Denmark, at nakikita po natin na ito […] ito talaga sir perpendicular halos, ito po ‘yong pinaka-tinatawag nating exponential po Mr. President na medyo mahirap magkaroon po tayo,” he added.
The views that a surge may happen in the country are shared by OCTA Research’s Fr. Nicanor Austriaco and the Department of Health (DOH) itself.
Galvez said that Austriaco believes the next COVID-19 surge may originate from one of the sub-variants of the Omicron variant — the BA.4 or the BA.5, considering that the last surge in January was due to the BA.2 sub-variant.
“Fr. Nic Austriaco presented the emergence of the three Omicron variants, two from South Africa, and one from the US. He predicted that with these three variants, it is very likely that at least one or even maybe all of these variants will hit the Philippines,” Galvez said.
“DOH also reported 13 areas under Alert Level 1 are now experiencing increase in cases, though there (are) no signs of alarm but they are monitoring it. And with these, many experts predicted including OCTA that mid-May, we will have a dramatic increase of new cases,” he added.
The country has seen low COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, prompting President Duterte to say that the situation is good. However, he remained wary of possible surges given that other countries like China, which has declared zero cases in the past, saw a huge surge recently.
Duterte urged Filipinos to listen to science and refrain from making judgments based on little knowledge.
“We have recorded an all-time low, of almost only about 2,010 new cases. Maganda na masyado ‘yan. Ngayon ang problema, ganito, if the next surge is not the Omicron type, or mga variants D or whatever, kung ang makuha mo ‘yong COVID-19 original killer. So that would be a serious problem again,” Duterte said.
“Apparently itong COVID-19 does not fit into the picture. You have to listen to our medical professionals, our scientists, Filipino, mga scientists natin, may alam ‘yan. ‘Wag na tayong magpa-ano pa na mas marunong tayo kesa kanila. There is no such thing as… you know a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing,” he added.
As of Monday, DOH said that the Philippines only registered 1,465 total COVID-19 cases from April 18 to 24 — very low numbers compared to the surge last January where daily infections almost breached the 300,000 mark.
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