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DOH notes uptick in COVID-19 cases, travel restrictions not needed

DOH notes uptick in COVID-19 cases, travel restrictions not needed

All regions in the country remain at low risk for COVID-19, despite a “small” increase in cases recently observed and new variants being monitored internationally, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

Citing data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the DOH said there are three new COVID-19 variants under monitoring: JN.1.18; KP.2; and KP.3. These are all descendants of the JN.1, which is a variant of interest.

The DOH said that further assessment is still needed to determine their transmissibility and capacity to evade immune response.

From May 7 to 13, the DOH recorded 877 new COVID-19 cases nationwide, with an average of 125 cases reported per day.

“While there is an observed increase recently, it is small and lower than previously observed increases,” the agency said.

Five deaths were also reported, which occurred from April 30 to May 13.

Out of the new cases, seven were also found in severe or critical condition.

A total of 116 severe and critical COVID-19 cases were also admitted in various hospitals, as of May 12.

As to hospital beds, the DOH noted that only 119 (11%) intensive care unit (ICU) beds for COVID-19 patients were occupied out of the 1,117 beds available. There were also 1,238 (13%) of the 9,571 dedicated non-ICU beds in use.

Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, the DOH stressed that there is no scientific basis to restrict travels to any country, as it continues to track the cases and international developments.

“All Philippine regions remain to be at low risk for COVID-19,” the DOH said.

“There is no scientific basis for travel restrictions to any country because of an increase in COVID-19 cases. The Department remains to be in close coordination with international health authorities, and its Bureau of Quarantine is keeping watch over points of entry nationwide,” it added.

The DOH also advised the voluntary and proper use of face masks, along with observance of standard precautions like hand washing, avoiding crowds, and choosing good airflow. —KG, GMA Integrated News