DOH will know by mid-January of ‘holiday surge’ in COVID-19 cases

Published January 4, 2021, 4:15 PM

by Hanah Tabios

The Department of Health (DOH) said that it would only be in mid-January that it can determine whether or not there was a surge in COVID-19 cases during the holiday season as laboratories will be fully operational starting Monday, Jan. 4. 


Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during Monday’s virtual press briefing that several factors affected the daily reporting of cases during the holiday season such as the “health-seeking behavior” of individuals who refused to get tested as they are with their families and limited operations of testing hubs.

These are the same reasons, Vergeire noted, that the DOH recorded a 5-percent drop in the nationwide daily confirmed COVID-19 cases. There was also a 4-percent decrease in the daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in the  National Capital Region (NCR). 

“From the recent numbers, we were averaging a total of about 36,000 laboratory submissions per day. It went down to about 22,000 for this holiday season. So, malaking bagay yung 12,000 na nawala doon sa output na sinasubmit sa atin,” she said. 

“We are expecting if and when this surge will really happen. Mid-January baka lumabas dyan (It might come out in mid-January),” she added. 

Vergeire also clarified that there was no truth to the reports stating that there is already a presence of the new coronavirus variant in the country. 

“Wala pa rin pong nakikita ang ating Philippine Genome Center na may (new coronavirus) variant na tayo dito (The Philippine Genome Center has not yet detected if there is already a variant of the new coronavirus in the country),” she said. 

The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) has already received samples from passengers who arrived in the Philippines from countries with confirmed cases of the new variant.   Recently, a traveler from the United Kingdom tested positive for COVID-19.

“They already were able to start the process and hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday this week we will get the results,” she added. 

Aside from the arriving passengers that were swabbed, Vergeire said samples were also taken from the targeted population, including those identified under the “vulnerable and risky” sectors who are likely to acquire the new COVID-19 variant.