PH's active cases up to 500k; 60k daily cases in Metro Manila mid-May should lax health standards ensue - DOH

Masking has been the keen deterrent since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago to prevent the disease from further spreading but since cases have not been rising in the past months, some may have been complacent and now the country's health department is looking at a six-digit jump in new infections by the middle of May.

(Jansen Romero / Manila Bulletin File Photo)

In the latest projection of the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler (FASSTER) team provided by Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during a public briefing on Tuesday, April 19, they said that a continued disregard to minimum public health standards (MPHS) would result to 500,000 active Covid-19 cases.

"If talagang magbababa ang MPHS compliance (If MPHS compliance would really decrease) by as much as 50 percent, we will see as much as 60,000 daily cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) ," Vergeire said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also issued a similar projection on Monday, April 18 of at least 300,000 active cases of Covid-19 by mid-May should the public continue to neglect minimum health and safety protocols.

However, she reiterated that these projections are not "cast in stone", which means nobody knows if it would actually happen or not. She explained that these are used by the government as a means to help plan, prepare, and guide citizens.

When it comes to these projections, Vergeire mentioned that they always look at the risk factors that will contribute to the increase in cases, some of which, according to her, are currently being seen.

First that she mentioned is crowding or mass gathering with no physical distancing which was first observed during the start of the campaign period wherein various events were initiated by different camps. Under this low alert level, 100 percent venue capacity is allowed. There have also been parties, Vergeire said, where people no longer wear masks.

"These kinds of risk factors can contribute to the increase in cases," she said.

She also added that the uptick in cases does not have to be exactly what the projections state but an increase in cases is already an indication that there is an occuring transmission due to the aforementioned risk factors.

Vergeire said that adherence to MPHS as well as Covid-19 vaccination is the only way to overcome the pandemic and move on to the so-called new normal.

On the other hand, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana said that in case this surge does occur, it should be remembered that the country is no longer in a position that it was two years ago.

"If umabot nga sa (it reaches) point na dumami nga yung (that there will be an increase in) cases, sa ngayon (for now) we have the tools in which we can fight back naman at di na natin kakailanganin ( and we won't need) hopefully yung mga (the) lockdowns hindi na natin sila kailangan gawin dahil mayroon na po tayong (we no longer need to do that because we have) substantial immunity," Salvana said.

He also urged the public to get booster Covid-19 shots as it is a means to help keep low Covid-19 cases in the country.