‘We are preparing for the worst-case scenario’ - treatment czar

An official of the Department of Health (DOH) underscored the need of preparing the country’s healthcare system in case of another surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases amid the threat of the Delta variant.

DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega

Treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said the “uptick” in cases in Metro Manila is presumed to be due to the highly contagious variant, but he noted that the situation is still “manageable.”

“We are preparing for the worst-case scenario dito kasi alam natin na highly transmissible ito tapos mas maraming tao kaagad ang ma-apektuhan (because we know that it is highly transmissible and more people will be affected),” Vega said in an interview over CNN Philippines Friday, July 23.

He believes that the variant may have already spread to the provinces as he lamented that the country’s capacity to conduct genome sequencing of positive samples is limited.

“Kakaiba talagang itong Delta variant sa ibang variants of concern dahil itong Delta variant is highly transmissible (This Delta variant is really different from other variants of concern because this Delta variant is highly transmissible),” he explained.

“Ang ibig sabihin ay pwede siyang makahawa ng five to eight people at one time. Exponential talaga ang growth kaya mabilis talaga ang transmission (This means it can infect five to eight people at one time. The growth is really exponential so the transmission is really fast).”

With this, the health official reiterated their mandate to the local government units to intensify their implementation of safety protocols and ensure the public’s compliance with the minimum public health standards.

The DOH is also preparing treatment facilities in the country in case of the another surge of infections now that there is a local transmission of the variant in the country.

“Talagang inimprove natin yung number of allocated beds, lalong lalo na sa public and private, na kung magkakaroon ng surge meron silang opening up of more beds (We have improved the number of allocated beds, especially in public and private hospitals, so that if there is a surge they can open up more beds),” he said.

Vega said they have employed an “accordion-like strategy” wherein hospitals can allocate more beds by converting their non-COVID facilities to cater infected patients in case of a surge.

“Pinaghahandaan talaga namin and prepared na (We are really preparing and now we are prepared) so we hope that we can cope up with it,” he said.

“Expecting for the worst-case scenario but alam naman natin na talagang (we all know that) we just cannot predict and very uncertain about the future,” he added.