The country was able to withstand the devastation of the Delta variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and eventually defeat it by implementing adjusted safety protocols, a task force official leading the pandemic response announced Friday, Oct. 22.
“We made some drastic decision of really locking down early so we can have a preparation for the coming of the Delta. Ngayon nakita natin (Now, we have seen that) we were able to defeat Delta,” said Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.
Galvez issued the remark during the arrival of 698,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine which were procured by the private sector under the “Dose of Hope” program. The jabs arrived around 9:35 a.m. at Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
From as high as 20,000 cases per day in August, a period when the effects of Delta was first felt, the daily number of new cases has since gone down to around 4,000 this week.
There has also been a negative growth rate of infections in all cities and lone municipality in Metro Manila this week, according to the OCTA research group.
To contain the rapid spread of the virus, the government piloted the implementation of the “Alert Level” system in Metro Manila to replace the community quarantine status where targeted lockdowns, or the closure of small pockets of areas with high transmission of cases, were used instead of region-wide lockdowns.
But did Galvez celebrate a little too early?
According to recent reports, experts have discovered in United Kingdom a new mutation of the Delta, now called as “Delta plus” by some groups. Many things remained unknown regarding the new mutation of Delta but it already raised concerns that it might make the highly transmissible variant even more dangerous.
Galvez was asked about the new Delta mutation but he said they have yet to gather information about it.
“Hindi pa natin ano ito sa ngayon (We haven’t [heard] of it yet right now.) Even though bumababa ang kaso natin (our cases are declining), we are trying to prepare our defenses by massive vaccination,” he said.
The government has also been beefing up the capabilities of COVID-referral hospitals and hiring more healthcare workers “so that we can prepare for the incoming surge if there is any.”
“Hangga’t maari, (As much as possible) we will try to prevent it [surge] to happen,” Galvez said.
So far, the country has already received 93.66 million doses of vaccines, of which around 54 million doses have been administered nationwide. More than 25 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated while 29 million have received their first dose.