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DOH vows to monitor any possible uptick in COVID cases after 2022 polls

/ 07:19 PM May 10, 2022
The Department of Health (DOH) has assured the public that it will monitor any possible rise in COVID-19 cases following the 2022 national and local elections.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire speaks during the Department of Health’s online media forum on Monday, September 20, 2021. Screengrab from DOH Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has assured the public that it will monitor any possible rise in COVID-19 cases following the 2022 national and local elections.

This development came after reports that some health protocols were disregarded by voters during the voting process.

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In an online briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said their latest projections showed that if compliance with the minimum public health standards go down by 30 percent, cases may rise by the end of May.

She, however, said that the uptick may be seen earlier than expected, especially as new variants can spread quicker.

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“Naglagay na po tayo ng projections at naipamahagi na po natin ang impormasyon na ito na kung saan, doon sa latest update and projections kapag bumaba po as much as 30 to 50 percent ang compliance ng minimum public health standards, maaari po na magkaroon tayo ng pagtaas ng kaso by the end of May,” Vergeire told reporters.

(We have put in place projections and we have distributed these informations so that the latest update can be monitored, whether the compliance in the minimum public health standards declined 30 to 50 percent, then we may experience an increase by the end of May.)

“So we will be closely monitoring, we will see, we know that the incubation period of the virus is 14 days, but we know also that because of this variants it may be shorter than 14 days,” she added.  “So we will see in the next two weeks kung meron pong magiging pagtaas ng kaso because of these activities during these elections.”

Numerous reports of vote counting machines malfunctioning during the recently-concluded elections have forced voters to stay at their precincts longer than expected, leading to huge crowds at schools and voting areas.

In Caloocan, there were reports that the checking of temperature was no longer observed after people rushed to the gates.

But according to Vergeire, the implementation of health protocols in most precincts were smooth, even as she admitted that it was disregarded in some areas.

Still, she said that if people wore their masks properly, if classrooms are properly ventilated, and if voters are vaccinated, then the risks may be mitigated, especially as new COVID-19 cases are declining — lower by 19 percent compared to the previous week.

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“In other voting centers naging maayos po ang daloy ng pagboboto, naipatupad nang maayos po ang ating mga sinet na safety protocol.  Pero totoo po ‘yan, we recognize and we have observed na meron po talagang mga areas na na-obserbahan natin kahapon na hindi lang po nakasunod itong ating mga itinalagang safety protocols,” Vergeire said.

“But nevertheless as we always say, we are closely monitoring the situation, we have seen violations specifically on physical distancing but so as long as people are wearing their masks properly, there’s adequate ventilation in the classrooms, and also syempre bakunado po ang ating mga kakabayan […] atin pong mamimitigate ‘yong risk na dinudulot nito pong possibility na baka tumaas ang ating kaso,” she added.

DOH said that as of Monday, 76 percent of the country’s population eligible for vaccines have been fully-vaccinated, which accounts for more than 68 million Filipinos.  From this, 6.7 million of the country’s elderly population and almost nine million have been given booster shots.

But despite the high rate of vaccinations, Vergeire said that they still gave jabs during the election day.

“Vaccination never stops, kagaya po ng aming pangako mula sa Kagawaran ng Kalusugan, hindi po titigil ang kagawaran hangga’t di pa protektado ang lahat laban sa COVID-19 [The DOH will not stop protecting everyone against COVID-19],” she said.

“Kaya naman bagamat abala ang lahat sa pagpili ng bagong mga pinuno kahapon sa Halalan 2022, abala rin po ang Department of Health sa pagtuturok ng bakuna dahil nakapagtayo po tayo ng 333 temporary vaccination sites courtesy of our local government units [Although everyone is busy choosing the next leaders in yesterday’s elections, we are also busy supervising vaccinations with the establishment of 333 temporary vacination sites],” she added.

Prior to elections, there were fears that COVID-19 cases may shoot up, especially with South Africa infections rising up — which vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said may be used by the country as a basis.

READ: Galvez warns: PH could see spike in COVID-19 cases just like South Africa 

JPV

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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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