The Department of Health (DOH) reminded the public to avoid complacency as the scenario that the country may experience another surge in Covid-19 cases remains a possibility.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that this is because of the mutations of the Covid-19 virus.
“Yung Delta, nag surge tayo (With the Delta, we had a surge)— that was August, September . And the Omicron was [in] January… hindi natin pwedeng sabihin na hindi na mangyayari (we cannot say that it won’t happen again) because you know the virus is notorious for mutations,” said Duque in a television interview on Thursday, June 23.
“The problem with the virus is the unpredictability. Having said that, we don’t know because Omicron palang isangkatutak na subvariants na ang lumabas (have several subvariants), which every mutation has brought about higher transmissibility,” he added.
However, Duque said that the current uptick in cases is not the same “as the way we had the surge in January.”
“In January, the peak of our surge was 34,000 [cases] per day. Just to put in context and proper perspective, of course any increase is a cause for alarm but suffice to say as long as our people continue to comply with the minimum health standards, in particular good masking compliance, then we will be able to manage this and really not see huge or massive increases in the number of cases,” he said.
The DOH has already detected the presence of Omicron subvariants BA.2.12, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 in the Philippines.
Duque also noted that “despite all these mutations, there is no evidence to show that this is causing more severe or critical Covid cases.”
“So, thankfully, kahit nagmu-mutate siya sana hindi siya magiging mabangis, peligroso, deadly (even if this virus is mutating, we’re hoping it is not that vicious or deadly)…The objective is to manage these cases na huwag masyadong tataas na hindi ma overwhelm yung ating healthsystem (in the manner that these will not greatly increase so as not to overwhelm our health system),” he said.
Alert Level 2
Shifting an area to Alert Level 2 is also possible should its healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) reach the specific threshold, said Duque.
“Kapag sumipa ito ng 50 percent to 70 percent of our healthcare capacity (If the healthcare capacity reaches 50 to 70 percent], that should be a more sensitive metric that will signal the need to escalate should that happen,” said Duque.
Currently, the country’s HCUR remains at low-risk. “Our healthcare utilization rate is also nationally below… I think about 20 percent more or less,” said Duque.
“We have to be alert. We just have to continue to remind our people—two things: masking and get your vaccination, your booster once eligible and the other elements of our minimum public health standards,” the Health chief said.