The Department of Health (DOH) believes the health protocols being implemented in the country is still appropriate to protect the public amid reports that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is being transmitted through the air.\
“We have our existing protocol already. As of now, we are assessing these findings. But, so far, what we are doing right now is still appropriate to protect the public,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual forum on Monday, April 19.
WHO Representative in the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, meantime, has this to say:”We are aware of this and we are looking at these conclusions carefully. We still recognize that this is not a big risk factor; we have to take in the context of relative risk.We continue to emphasize that the aerosols generated whether it’s through talking, coughing or sneezing can be controlled by the wearing of mask and that’s why WHO has been advocating for the wearing of mask to prevent the likelihood of these aerosols landing on surfaces or on other people.”
“While every precaution needs to be taken, we are also conscious of the fact that unless we have a clear impact analysis of what degree of transmission can be attributed to aerosol, to airborne transmission, our primary focus should be on the prevention of transmission through the wearing of the mask and hand hygiene that we have been advocating,” he added.
Abeyasinghe said WHO clearly recommended that where airborne transmission is highly likely, specially where medical procedures are happening, that we advocate for the use of N95 mask.
“But if there is relatively low risk in other circumstances, it does not justify using those precious commodities to minimize that risk to minimum,” he said.
“So, we continue to emphasize that it is largely aerosol generated transmission and we need to continue to follow what we have been advising. But we are still looking at these new reports and we are studying them,” added Abeyasinghe.
Meanwhile, the WHO official said the COVID-19 variant first detected in the Philippines (P.3) has not been showing increased transmissibility.
“The evidence we are seeing indicates that this probably does not have the increased transmissibility that was originally thought to be associated with it,” said Abeyasinghe.
“We looked particularly on the stabilisation of transmission in Central Visayas and Cebu,” he added.
As to the severity of the disease, Abeyasinghe said:”We are still analyzing data so we cannot conclude conclusively yet about the potential of the variant.”