DOH warns vs. complacency on COVID-19 downward trend

While a downward trend on the cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines is seen, the Department of Health reminded the public that “we cannot be complacent at this point.”

In this photo taken on September 8, 2020, passengers wearing face shields have their temperature taken before boarding a bus in Manila. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a virtual press briefing Monday said that based on the trend of reported cases, the average number of cases per week has decreased to about 1,000 to 1,200 cases.

However, cases in some areas still record an increase.

“That’s why we always say that we cannot be complacent at this point. We still need to practice minimum health standards and remain vigilant,” Vergeire said.

She stressed that the recalibrated strategies put in place to handle the pandemic like the One Hospital Command and Oplan Kalinga have been working reasonably well.

“We are assuming-- this is still an assumption we still want to further analyze it-- that our recalibrated strategies have given a breather to our health system,” Vergeire said.

“The NCR (National Capital Region) is seen as the best example that we were able to really decongest our hospitals. The utilization has decreased to a level, although it is still at warning level,” she added.

The Health official cited the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) which has provided the local government units further guidance on how to do active surveillance, and constant monitoring of patients.

Encouraging patients to transfer to quarantine facilities from self-isolation at home was also a crucial move for the downward trend of cases, Vergeire noted.

Severe, critical cases

The Health department also stressed that while there has been an increase in the number of critical and severe cases of COVID-19, the increase is still under one percent, which is “not really significant.”

Whenever there is an increase in the absolute number of cases in the country, critical and severe cases may also increase, Vergeire noted.

By the end of August, an increase of .4 percent on these cases was recorded while .5 percent increase was noted by September 22.

“So, in terms of percent on the increase of cases for severe and critical cases, it's not really significant because it is still less than one percent. Although, as I've said, because the absolute number increases, severe and critical cases also go up but looking at the proportion and the percentage of this across all the cases that we have right now, the increase is still less than 1 percent,” Vergeire explained.

“We still continue to monitor, especially these critical and severe cases so that they can be managed appropriately,” she added.

Clustering of cases

The increase of cases in certain areas in the country is attributed to the expanded protocols on testing, positive result turnout, and the active surveillance by local government units.

Based on the September 27 report on clustering, a total of 2,075 clusters (cumulative) were reported through the Health department’s event-based surveillance and response.

It was disclosed that 84.29 percent of these clusters are coming from the community, 5.06 percent are in hospitals and health facilities, 1.73 percent are from jails, while 8.92 percent are from other settings.

The regions with the highest number of areas with clustering were NCR, Region 4A, Region 7, and Region 3.