The Philippines’ new COVID-19 infections may decrease to as low as 429 daily by December if minimum public health standards will be continuously complied with, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.
Citing FASSSTER national projections, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Dr. Alethea de Guzman said that daily and active COVID-19 cases may continuously decline next month if the current pandemic scenario and observance to heath protocols would remain by then.
However, she warned that infections may go as high as 2,294 by the end of December if people would reduce compliance to the minimum health standards, such as masking and social distancing.
“Bakit mababawasan? Nabanggit natin na paparating na naman ang holidays, so posibleng mas dadami ang magiging interactions natin, lalong bababa ang ating social distancing, and of course nababawasan na nga ang ating compliance to masking,” she said in a Kapihan forum.
(It may be reduced because the holidays are coming again, so it is possible that our interactions will be more, our social distancing will decrease, as well as our compliance to masking.)
“If our MPHS compliance further decreases, our daily cases will actually, may probably range from 1,140 to as high 2,294 by the end of December, and our active cases may also reach a total of as of December,” she continued.
Based on AuTuMN projections in the National Capital Region (NCR), De Guzman said that hospital utilization will not increase if the vaccination rate is further improved and there are no variants of concern that will enter the country.
She also explained that COVID-19 case spikes are indeed expected to occur with increased mobility, social gatherings, and eased restrictions, but these should not lead to deaths, especially among the vulnerable population.
“Puwedeng dumami ang kaso [the cases may increase], but they will not translate to significant increases in our hospitalizations,” she said.
“The highest number that we will see will be actually around 800 admissions and these are NCR data,” she added.
Based on DOH’s latest data, 73.5 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated, while 20.7 million have received booster shots.
Even as the national government already approved the voluntary face mask use, health experts continuously remind the public of the benefits masking could provide, especially with the detection of the Omicron BQ.1, a sublineage of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5 subvariant.
Infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said that with the upcoming holiday season, people, particularly the senior citizens and people with comorbidities, should continue wearing their face masks, on top of getting vaccinated and boosted, to help protect themselves against the severe diseases brought by a COVID-19 infection.
“We encourage people to still wear the face masks especially at gatherings, in parties, in public transportation, and particularly the vulnerable population to protect themselves. So please, it’s important. The face mask is an important part of our protection against the highly transmissible BQ.1,” he said in an ANC interview.
The DOH reported on Friday that 14 cases of BQ.1 have been detected based on the latest genome sequencing of UP-Philippine Genome Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and San Lazaro Hospital from October 28 to November 18.
Cases of COVID-19 in the country grew by 8,032 more from November 21 to 26, 2022, according to DOH. This represented an average of 1,147 daily cases for the said week, or 0.3% higher than the cases registered from November 14 to 20. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News