DOH: End to pandemic only if vax targets met
MANILA, Philippines — The end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country may be deemed within sight, only if vaccination targets are achieved in order to prevent a surge in cases, the officer in charge of the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 positivity rate in Metro Manila this week has risen more than three times the 5 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the department’s latest figures.
In her press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said, “We agree with Dr. Tedros [Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO]. Globally, based on statistics [and] immunization coverage all over the world, it seems that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“But here in the Philippines, personally, and even the department feels that we are seeing the end of this [pandemic]. But we have to be ready because we know that even if the pandemic is ending, the virus is here to stay,” she noted.
Vergeire warned that COVID-19, even at its endemic stage, would still cause outbreaks and deaths “every now and then.”
“What we need to do [is] strengthen our system, strengthen the immunity of the population and make our facilities ready so that … we can all be ready and remain protected,” she said.
As of this week, only 2.8 percent of the target 1.07 million senior citizens have been fully vaccinated, while 10.9 percent of the target 23.9 million eligible for first booster shots have availed themselves of that dose.
The government on Monday lifted the restriction of wearing face masks outdoors.
But Vergeire said that rule could still be reinstated if supported by such indicators as the rise in hospital admissions and the average daily attack rate breaching the moderate level of six per 100,000.
‘Not a cause for alarm’
The latest data from the DOH showed the positivity rate in Metro Manila at 16.4 percent, up from 13.2 percent last week.
On the other hand, data from the OCTA Research group pegged the positivity rate at 14.5 percent this week, from 12.7 percent a week ago.
At Friday’s Laging Handa briefing, OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David also noted an increase in hospital utilization from 36 percent last week to 39 percent this week.
He said “[F]or now, it is not a cause for alarm, but we should be aware that it is increasing so we can act accordingly.”
David emphasized that the rise in cases was not due to the restriction on wearing face masks outdoors being lifted, but to “increased mobility” following the return of in-person classes last month.
He pointed out further a survey by OCTA last March wherein 60 percent to 70 percent of respondents said they would still wear face masks even if the government made it optional.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.