A local health expert believes that the Covid-19 virus, which started to spread worldwide in 2020, is still considered a global concern but no longer a health emergency.
Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Rontgene Solante made this statement following the recent meeting of members of the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss if Covid-19 still qualifies the definition of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), which was declared last Jan. 30, 2020. The WHO has yet to announce its decision.
“It is still a global concern; but not, for me, (still) a health emergency,” said Solante in a television interview.
“As we move on, if it is not a public health emergency, it is still a concern, why?—the vulnerable population will always be the target of higher risk of severe cases and this is where we should focus on protecting the vulnerable population: the elderly, those who have comorbidities and immunocompromised,” he added.
Solante said there are already several interventions to fight Covid-19 compared to three years ago.
“We already have a lot of these antiviral agents that can really prevent severe infections,” he noted.
“Most countries, primary vaccination is higher, so a lot of these countries have attained population immunity,” he added.
If the PHEIC is lifted, the Philippines must continue to implement its measures against Covid-19 to maintain the low number of new cases and prevent further deaths, said Solante.
Adherence to minimum public health standards must also be maintained. “Face mask is still an important protection, especially for the vulnerable population,” he said.
The government should also make sure that the vaccination continues and that antiviral medicines remain accessible, especially for the vulnerable population.
Meanwhile, Solante said that the Philippines is now in a better position amid the ongoing threat of Covid-19.
“Our positivity rate is really very low now, less than five percent...that only tells us that most people having Covid are having the mild type of Covid, “ he said.
“ hospitalization rate continues to be low, less than 30 percent. So, that means that less people are going to the hospital because of severe Covid,” he added.