Expert notes 'early signals' of Covid-19 resurgence in PH

Published May 25, 2022, 4:34 PM

by Analou de Vera

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Amid the detection of more transmissible variants of the Covid-19 virus, is there a possibility that a surge in coronavirus cases will happen again in the Philippines?

There were some “instances” wherein a rise in Covid-19 cases were observed in the country but not sustained, said Dr. John Wong, an epidemiologist and a member of the technical working group for data analytics of the government’s pandemic task force.

“We’re seeing early signals of a surge. Over the past month, there have been three instances of reversals of the decreasing growth rates of cases,” said Wong.

“However, even if none have been sustained, we should take these as early warning signals and take the appropriate steps,” he added.

Recently, a slight increase in Covid-19 cases in the country has been observed, based on the weekly case update of the Department of Health (DOH).

A total of 1,118 cases were recorded from May 9 to 15. However, an increase was noted during the period of May 16 to 22 wherein 1,214 new infections were logged—registering a 9.9 percent increase. The average daily cases per day nationwide is at 173.

Health authorities are closely monitoring the country’s Covid-19 situation following the recent detection of Omicron subvariants BA.2.12, BA.2.12.1, and BA.4, which are said to be more transmissible than the original Omicron variant.

The last time that the Philippines saw a surge in cases was last January which was driven by the original Omicron variant. The country saw its highest tally of cases in a single-day at 37,207 last Jan. 14.

Wong emphasized the importance of adherence to Covid-19 public health guidelines, saying that “we know that both masking and distancing reduce Covid risk.”

“Shifting from cloth masks to high-filtration efficiency masks reduces transmission. With the resumption of work and schools, people are starting to crowd indoors. The adoption of hybrid work arrangements is one way to reduce crowding in the workplace,” he added.

Currently, the number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines is still “stable,” said infectious diseases expert Dr. Edsel Salvana.

“Iyong increase ngayon is [That increase of] 9.9 percent from the last week, in fact, we were expecting it to be much higher, kasi kakatapos lang elections at katatapos lang rin ng mga malalaking rallies at ng mga ‘miting de avance (because the elections as well as big rallies and miting de avance had just ended),’” said Salvana.

“In fact, we were kind of holding our breath kasi 14 days – up to 14 days ang incubation eh makikita na talaga natin kung mayroon mang spike in cases (because the incubation period is up to 14 days. That is when we can see if there is a spike in cases), it should be happening around this time. And so far, mukhang stable naman iyong cases, gawa na rin noong paggamit ng tao ng mask na tuluy-tuloy at tumataas na ang antas ng vaccination (the number of cases seems to be stable because the public continue to use masks as well as the high vaccination rate),” he added.