PH now back to ‘moderate risk’ classification for COVID-19

Published July 29, 2021, 2:16 PM

by Analou de Vera

Disregarding any form of physical distancing, residents from Manila’s six districts gather at the Recoletos Street gate of Manila High School in Intramuros, Manila, on Friday, June 18, 2021, to claim their financial assistance under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Social Amelioration Program (SAP). (Joe Priela)

The Philippines is now classified again as “moderate risk” for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after it saw an increase in infections recently, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

“We’re now seeing an increase in cases this mid-July…. National cases saw an increase in the recent week,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in an online forum on Thursday, July 29.

She noted that cases from July 24 to 28 recorded 6,029 cases per day. This is an increase of 453 cases per day compared to the previous week with 5,576 cases from July 15 to 21.

Vergeire said that an upward trend was observed in Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon, while a “downward trend is seen” in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque,Romblon, Palawan) and Bicol region. Meanwhile, the cases trend in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna,Batangas, Rizal,Quezon) is “plateauing.”

Moreover, a “steep rise in cases was observed in Central Visayas, while case trends in Western Visayas and Eastern Visayas are decreasing, said Vergeire.

Northern Mindanao is exhibiting an “upward trend” in cases while cases in Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) is “plateauing.”

“All other regions in Mindanao are exhibiting a decline in cases,” said Vergeire.

Last July 1, the DOH classified the country under the “low-risk” category for COVID-19 case trend.

Metro Manila COVID-19 situation

The spike in the new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila is a “cause for concern,” said Vergeire.

She said that the National Capital Region (NCR) has logged an “additional 231 cases versus the previous week.”

From the previous average of 782 cases on July 15 to 21, cases in NCR went up to 1,013 during the period of July 22 to 28, Vergeire noted.

“The whole region is now again at a positive two-week growth rate at 19 percent. This should be a cause for concern as NCR has been at a negative two-week growth rate for weeks before this current week,” she said in the same online forum.

Vergeire also flagged 11 cities in Metro Manila due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

These areas are Makati, Las Pinas, Pasay, Pasig, Taguig, Paranaque, Manila, Valenzuela, Navotas, Marikina, and Caloocan.

While the healthcare utilization rate in NCR remains at “low-risk” classification, “a slight increase is already being seen,” said Vergeire.

She noted that the healthcare utilization rate in Las Pinas is currently classified at “critical risk” while Makati is under “high-risk.”

Surge in COVID-19 cases?

The DOH spokesperson maintained that there is still no indication of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

“Ang pagkakaintindi naman talaga sa surge ay yung biglang pagtaas ng kaso na madami talaga. There is this rapid or large increase in the number of cases. At kapag iyan ang pinagbasehan natin, wala po tayong nakikitang surge (A surge is a sudden increase in cases. There is this rapid or large increase in the number of cases. And if that’s what we base it on, we don’t see a surge yet),” said Vergeire.

“Hindi po natin tinatago ang katotohanan na tumataas ang kaso sa iba’t-ibang lugar sa Pilipinas (We are not hiding the fact that the cases are on the rise in various parts of the Philippines) and even now in NCR, we are now flagging 11 areas but we do not want to term this as a surge,” she added.

Vergeire said that the DOH “do not want to alarm people.”

“We do not like to be alarmists. Ayaw namin na nagpapanic ang ating mga kababayan. But hindi rin natin sinasabi na magiging complacent tayo (We do not want our citizens to panic. But we are also not saying that we should be complacent),” she said.

“Doble po ang ingat natin lahat ngayon dahil alam natin kung gaano ka transmissible ang Delta variant at kung gaano ang posibilidad na maari talagang makaapekto ito sa pagtaas ng mga kaso dito sa ating bansa (We are all doubly careful now because we know how transmissible the Delta variant is and how likely it could affect the increase in cases here in our country),” she added.