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Philippines, NCR still under critical risk amid COVID-19 slowdown

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The Philippines, Metro Manila and five other regions remain at critical risk for COVID-19 even as the growth rate of infections have been slowing down, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Monday.

During the President's Talk to the People, Health Chief Francisco Duque III said aside from the Philippines and metropolis,  Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Region, Calabarzon, Cordillera Administrative Region and  Central Luzon are also at critical risk.

Also, Duque bared that the percentage of increase for daily reported cases is also decreasing.

From December 21 to December 27, average daily cases were at 314.

Following this, from December 28, 2021 to January 3, 2022, cases went up to 2,592 which is higher by 725%.

Subsequently, average daily cases from January 4 to January 10 were higher by 680% with 20,462 infections.

But on January 11 to January 17, average daily cases were higher by 71% with 34,923 daily cases.

"So bumabagal, bumababa ang porsiyento ng pagtaas," Duque said.

Meanwhile, all other regions are at high risk classifications, he added.

Omicron as dominant variant

Asked if the more contagious Omicron coronavirus variant is already dominant, Duque said the variant is already composing 90% of the latest genome sequencing.

"Ang Omicron ngayon sa latest run ng specimens sa genome sequencing, tumaas na po. Halos  90% ang natuklasan sa pamamagitan ng home genome sequencing," he told President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte said he hoped that the infection will begin to plateau.

"Kung sana mag plateau na, yung plateau is steady ang infection, o 'di na dadagdag o yung tao na nakaharap ng covid na ito o lahat halos vaccinated, medyo may laban ka. Kung wala, maglibing tayo... punuin natin 'yung ano natin yang mga cemetery natin," said Duterte.

Duterte also asked Duque to explain why some people still get the virus even if they are just home and wear mask when they go outside.

The Health secretary said one reason could be the wrong way of wearing mask, which he said was sometimes just for "token compliance."

"Either mali ang pagsuot ng mask, token compliance, but it's the wrong way. . . .Ang omicron sa upper respiratory namumuo, sa ilong, lalamunan, hindi namumuo sa lungs.  Individuals with omicron can easily transmit it, konting salita, ubo, singa, nalilipat agad," Duque said.

At this point, Duterte said while wearing his mask, "Sa'n na ba yung mask ko, bwisit itong Omicron," eliciting laughter from Duque.

540 areas under granular lockdown

In his report, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said a total of 540 areas were placed under granular lockdown as COVID-19 infections continue to rise in the country.

Of the 540 areas, most were from Region 2 with 191 areas, followed by Cordillera Administrative Region with 143 and Region 1 with 123.

A total of 31 cities and municipalities as well as 268 villages were affected in the granular lockdown. Also, 717 households and 1,482 individuals were also affected in the strict lockdown.

Meanwhile, Año also noted that there are 4,801 active infections in the Interior department, including him.

Of the number, most were from Philippine National Police with 4,015 cases.—NB, GMA News

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