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Philippines now seeing start of ‘peak’ in COVID-19 infections — DOH’s Vergeire

More COVID-19 cases are expected to be recorded in the coming weeks as the country is now seeing another “peak” of infections, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In a CNN Philippines interview, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are closely monitoring the National Capital Region (NCR) where there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases which is now at 70%.

She noted that the average number of cases in the region has doubled compared to the previous week, and its average daily attack rate also already went up to 1.02.

“Right now what we're seeing is that the number of cases are continuously increasing, especially here in the National Capital Region, and we can see that this is really the start of the peak in the number of cases,” Vergeire said.

“We are again guiding the public and making them aware that this might be the start that the cases will continuously rise in the next couple of weeks,” she added.

Aside from NCR, she noted that the DOH is monitoring the increase in COVID-19 cases in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, and Northern Mindanao.

Despite the increase in cases, the Health official maintained that the country is not experiencing another COVID-19 “surge.”

“Let us not call this a surge because we try to avoid using this term from the previous increases in cases because this has caused a lot of confusion among the public,” she said.

Vergeire also attributed the reasons for such a rise in COVID-19 infections to the entry of the more transmissible Omnicron sub variants such as the BA 2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5; the increased mobility in the country; and the waning immunity of the vaccinated population.

Recent data from National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) showed that 70 million Filipinos are already fully vaccinated, while at least 74.8 million received their first dose.

Meanwhile, booster uptake remains to be a challenge in the country with only 14.7 million individuals receiving their first booster dose, and some 648,000 for their second booster dose.

Currently, the second booster shot could only be given to the frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals.

The Philippines on Sunday logged 612 new COVID-19 infections, which brought the active case count to 4,529 up from 4,176 recorded on Saturday. — RSJ, GMA News