DOH: Looser curbs by Christmas if cases keep dropping
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said that if the number of COVID-19 cases continued to decline, the government may loosen restrictions for the Christmas Season.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the Laging Handa public briefing that based on projections by a team that analyzes, surveys, and detects diseases, the estimated new daily cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) was expected to go down to around 1,100 per day by Nov. 15.
“If this trend continues and we continue to control the transmission of the disease, we hope that by Christmastime, we will have looser community quarantine classifications and restrictions,” Vergeire said.
The projection was made by the health department’s FASSSTER team, the short name for the group that conducts Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler For Early Detection of Diseases.
Based on the latest available data from the DOH’s COVID-19 tracker, there were 1,826 new cases in NCR on Oct. 8.
Vergeire said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) would also discuss whether children would be allowed outside of their homes by December. She said, however, that this would depend on the rate of vaccination in the country, particularly for children.
“That will also depend on case data, and if we are able to start vaccinating minors already, beginning with those with comorbidities,” Vergeire said.
She said that “it is possible” that restrictions on children going out of their houses would be lifted once the government gets ample vaccine supplies and the inoculation program is expanded.
Adar still high
The country is set to begin the pilot implementation of pediatric vaccinations on Oct. 15 for minors age 12 to 17 who have underlying medical conditions. They will be considered part of the A3 category, or persons with comorbidities.
The rollout of pediatric vaccination will start in eight hospitals to ensure that any adverse events following immunization are closely monitored, according to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., who is in charge of the national vaccination program.
In Saturday’s briefing, Vergeire also explained that hospitals, particularly their intensive care units (ICUs), were still full even as new COVID-19 cases were going down because they were the last to decongest.
She said individuals admitted in hospitals, particularly in the ICU, usually stay for 21 days or more.
Vergeire also said that while the reproduction number of the virus had gone down, the average daily attack rate (Adar) was still high in some areas.
The reproduction number is the number of people an infected person can potentially infect, while Adar is the number of new daily cases per 100,000 population.
The independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research earlier said the reproduction rate in Metro Manila had gone down to 0.61.
11,010 new cases
There were 11,010 new COVID-19 cases recorded by the DOH on Saturday, raising the number of active cases to 106,558 and the national total to 2,654,450.
Of the active cases, 76.3 percent were mild, 13.9 percent asymptomatic, 1.2 percent critical, 2.9 percent severe and 5.6 percent moderate.
The DOH said 22,529 more had recovered from the severe respiratory disease, pushing the number of survivors to 2,508,387.
The death toll rose by 273 to 39,505.
The positivity rate in the country was 16.3 percent, which meant that of the 56,475 tested on Thursday, around 9,205 were found positive for novel coronavirus. While the positivity rate in the country is going down, the number is still far from the World Health Organization’s recommended positivity rate of below 5 percent to control the transmission of the virus.
The DOH also said that 70 percent of all ICU beds and 56 percent of all COVID-19 ward beds were occupied, while 56 percent of all isolation beds and 51 percent of all mechanical ventilators were in use.
Two laboratories failed to submit their data on time, while 54 duplicate cases were removed from the total case count.
The DOH said 162 cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths after validation.
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