PH vs COVID-19: Where are we now?

Published July 11, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

12.4M vaccinated; 1.4M total cases; 1.380M recovered; 25,650 deaths; continue mask-handwash-social distance protocol

  • From ECQ to GCQ to ECQ – that’s how NCR, later the NCR-Plus, fought COVID-19 from June 2020 to June 2021
  • The surge in number of COVID-19 cases in March 2021 started the NCR-Plus bubble area – Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
  • As of July 7, 2021, available health facilities reflected the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases: ICU beds (3,500 total): 57 percent utilized; isolation beds (19,300 total): 47 percent utilized
  • The Philippines rolled out its vaccination program against COVID-19 on March 1 using the initial batch of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.
  • As of July 7, a total of 12,489,777 individuals have been vaccinated against COVID-19 while 3,089,976 people have completed their two doses.

Lockdowns, mask-hand wash-social distance-face shield, RT-PCR tests, vaccination – that about summarizes the major highlights of our lives for over a year with the coronavirus disease.

With the President’s last SONA just around the corner, it’s a good time to ask where we are exactly in the fight against COVID-19. Here’s a quick look at how COVID-19 affected the people and the economy in the past 12 months.

Return to ECQ

The Philippines was doing well according of the daily number of cases until the country saw a surge in the number of infections in Metro Manila and nearby areas in March this year.

This prompted the government to place Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under a general community quarantine (GCQ) bubble that was later on escalated to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). That was the birth of the NCR-Plus bubble area. 

(Manila Bulletin file photo)

The ECQ was supposed to last only a week but this was extended after the country recorded a whopping 12,576 COVID-19 cases on a single day (April 3, 2021).

(Ali Vicoy/ Manila Bulletin)

The bubble area was downgraded to modified ECQ (MECQ) in April and eventually to GCQ with restrictions the following month. It was only in June this year when the NCR-plus bubble area was dissolved due to the different restrictions imposed by the provincial and local government units. 

Currently, Metro Manila, Bulacan, and Rizal are under GCQ with some restrictions; while Cavite and Laguna are under GCQ with heightened restrictions from July 1 to 15, 2021.

Last week, President Duterte approved placing 20 areas under MECQ and 30 areas under GCQ for the month of July.

World ranking

To date, the Philippines has recorded 1,455,585 COVID-19 cases, 1,380,899 recovered, 25,650 died. 

As of the July 8, 2021 data from the Johns Hopkins University, the Philippines ranked 23rd worldwide in terms of COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 dashboard, the Philippines is 27th in active cases, 130th in number of cases per 100,000 population, and 91st in fatality rate.

1 M cases, bed capacity, testing labs

When the Philippines reached 1,006,428 on April 26 after weeks of seeing a surge in the daily number of COVID-19 cases, its healthcare facilities became overwhelmed.

(AFP/ Manila Bulletin)

The spike in cases prompted 15 hospitals in Metro Manila to declare full bed occupancy on May 7, 2021. By this time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that 71 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the National Capital Region (NCR) were utilized while 57 percent of isolation beds were occupied.

The crisis in bed capacity resulted in many accounts of families having difficulty being admitted to hospitals and worse, dying without even entering medical facilities. 

In April, Malacañang announced that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) completed five modular hospitals to address the demand.

Hospital beds utilized 

As the number of COVID cases started to drop in the National Capital Region, health facilities reflected the trend with more beds available.

(Ali Vicoy/ Manila Bulletin)

As of July 7, the DOH reported the following bed capacities nationwide:
• ICU beds (3,500 total): 57 percent utilized
• Isolation beds (19,300 total): 47 percent utilized
• Ward beds (12,200 total): 42 percent utilized
• Ventilators (2,800 total): 36 percent utilized
• Meanwhile, the DOH reported the following bed utilization rate in NCR:

• ICU beds (1,200 total): 45 percent utilized
• Isolation beds (4,800 total): 37 percent utilized
• Ward beds (3,500 total): 33 percent utilized
• Ventilators (1,000 total): 33 percent utilized

(Ali Vicoy/ Manila Bulletin)

In terms of testing laboratories, as of July 2, 2021, the Philippines has 269 licensed COVID-19 testing labs, 142 of which were private-owned based on the DOH website.

Vaccinated

The Philippines has finally rolled out its vaccination program against COVID-19 on March 1 using the initial batch of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

(Ali Vicoy/ Manila Bulletin)

The government’s vaccination program prioritizes medical frontliners and local chief executives (A1). They are followed by senior citizens (A2), persons with comorbidities (A3), economic frontliners (A4), and the indigent population (A5).

As of June 27, the country was able to obtain (through procurement and donations) a total of 17,455,470 doses of different brands of COVID-19 vaccines including Sinovac (China), Pfizer-BioNTech (USA), AstraZeneca (UK/Sweden), Sputnik V (Russia), and Moderna (USA).

(Ali Vicoy/ Manila Bulletin)

The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 said that 3,024,000 doses of the single-dose Janssen vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) from the US government within the first half of July.

As of July 7, a total of 12,489,777 individuals have been vaccinated against COVID-19 while 3,089,976 people have completed their two doses.

This development gave Malacañang enough confidence that the Philippines will have a better Christmas this year despite the ongoing crisis.

“Confident pa rin po tayo (We are still confident) for a better Christmas. We have exceeded the 10-millionth mark for vaccination,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on July 1, 2021.

“We’re confident that with more supplies of the vaccines coming in, mas maraming mabibigyan ng proteksyon (many more can be protected against COVID-19). We can move towards containment and a better Christmas this year,” he added.

Containment refers to vaccinating 45 to 50 percent of the country’s population.

Roque likewise said that with vaccinations picking up, the resumption of face-to-face classes in the basic education curriculum may happen sooner than later. In-person classes were suspended since March last year to protect the younger population against COVID-19.

As the country continued to get more COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccination has been picking up, Malacañang has been reminding the people to continue following health protocols.

 

 
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