An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the Western Pacific region has already improved but people should remain vigilant to avoid a surge in cases anew.
“While a few countries are still facing surges, in many countries of the Western Pacific, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths has now decreased and plateaued,” said WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr. Takeshi Kasai in a virtual press briefing on Friday, Dec. 3.
“There are also more and more people getting vaccinated, and pressure on hospitals and health systems in many places has eased. In most parts of the Region, things are trending in the right direction,” he added.
‘Pandemic far from over’
Despite these gains, Kasai reminded the people that “COVID-19 has now spread all over the world.”
“We should not be surprised to see more surges in the future. As long as transmission continues, the virus can continue to mutate as the emergence of Omicron demonstrates, reminding us of the need to stay vigilant,” he said.
“It is clear that this pandemic is far from over. And I know that people are worried about Omicron. I understand. My message today is that we can adapt the way we manage this virus to better cope with the future surges, and reduce their health, social, and economic impacts,” he added.
To note, the Philippines is part of the countries and areas included in the WHO Western Pacific Region. Since Nov. 24, the Philippines has been recording less than 1,000 cases daily.
Tools vs COVID-19 pandemic
Kasai urged countries to continue implementing the “five key tools” in order to “minimize health impacts as well as social and economic disruption.”
These tools are: vaccines, public health and social measures, treating people with COVID-19, surveillance, and border control.
“This is what we need to be doing in response to Omicron, based on what we know now, and adapting our response if needed as we learn more about its transmissibility, severity and impact,” said Kasai.
“We have come a really long way. We’ve worked hard and made many sacrifices over the past two years, doing our best to keep ourselves and each other safe from COVID-19. This is especially the case for healthcare workers, to whom we owe our deepest gratitude,” he added.
“Where we have high vaccine coverage, maintaining the right mix of public health and social measures, and ensure hospital beds are available for those who need them, we can avoid the ‘red line’ and can continue to open societies and economies,” he furthered.