December 6, 2021

Vaccination, immediate isolation needed to reduce cases: DOH

MANILA – There is a need to further increase the vaccination rate and to shorten the duration from detection to isolation of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases amid projections that spike in cases will continue in the coming days.

Citing forecast by experts, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Saturday said active cases in Metro Manila could reach 66,000 by August 31 and at least 269,000 by September 30 if the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) would be implemented until the end of next month.

Aside from vaccination and immediate isolation for the infected, Vergeire underscored the need to strictly observe the minimum public health standard, including the wearing of masks even for vaccinated people.

“Ito pong mga projections natin base po yan sa tatlong factors na yan so kung sakaling mai-improve nang maayos ‘yan tayo po ay magkakaroon ng pagbaba ng kaso. (Our projections are based on these three factors so if we’ll be able to improve these, we could see a decrease in cases),” she said in a Laging Handa briefing.

But Vergeire clarified that these projections are merely based on assumptions and do not necessarily mean active cases will reach those numbers by end of August and September.

“So yung assumptions natin dito kung atin pong mai-improve ang ating vaccination, ang ating case detection to isolation at saka ating compliance to minimum public health standard beyond doon sa pinasok natin sa assumptions natin ay maipapababa pa natin ito so ibig sabihin hindi naman talaga certain na mangyayari na ‘yan (If we improve our vaccination, case detection to isolation, and compliance to minimum public health standard beyond our assumptions, we can lower the cases further, so it does not mean that these projections are certain),” she said.

Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, infectious diseases expert and member of the DOH Technical Advisory Group, underscored that wearing a mask and following the health protocols delay a person’s exposure to SARS-CoV-2 but topping it with vaccination “decreases the risk of severe disease by 90 percent” and dying by a factor of 10.

“Delta has completely changed the equation. It is no longer a question of whether or not you will be exposed to Delta, but when. You can delay it by wearing your mask and the rest of your armor. But a variant as contagious as chickenpox will eventually find a way to ambush you when you least expect it,” he said on his official social media page.

“When that happens, please make sure you are vaccinated,” he said, adding that vaccinated people, 60 years old and above have a decreased risk of dying from 10 percent to 1; and 0.1 percent from 1 percent for those between 18 to 60 years old.

But he said even vaccinated individuals must still wear masks.

“This is because our vaccines are less able to protect against transmission. Even vaccinated elderly can still die from Covid, so we still want to protect them since 1 percent risk of dying (compared to 10 percent for unvaccinated) is still a high number for risk of death from an infection. We want to protect the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated from infection until all can get fully vaccinated,” he added.

No easing of restrictions

Meanwhile, even if MECQ was implemented in the National Capital Region, Laguna, and Bataan, Vergeire noted that there is no easing of restrictions.

“So hindi po tayo nag-ease ng restriction wala pong bukas na establishments na non-essential ngayon. Kahit na nilagay sa MECQ hindi pa rin pinayagan ang non-essential sectors so ibig sabihin po ‘yong pinapalabas lang po ung for the essential sector na meron tayo sa ngayon (We did not ease the restrictions, all non-essential establishments are still closed and only those in the essential sector are allowed outside),” she said.

Vergeire said the government continues to focus on supporting the response at the local governments’ level to improve their respective Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy.

She also assured that the government will assist hospitals by providing equipment and supplies, and enabling them to expand their bed capacities.

Meanwhile, she noted that the intervention done in the past weeks “can only be experienced two to three weeks” due to the incubation period of the virus.

“[K]ahit natapos ngayon ‘yong dalawang linggong ECQ natin makikita po natin ang epekto nito kung bababa man o tataas after two to three weeks (Even if we have concluded the two-week ECQ we will only be able to see its effect after two to three weeks),” she said.

Over the past few days, Vergeire said the areas with the highest infections are the NCR, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Cagayan Valley, and Central Visayas while the majority of those getting infected are age 20 to 49 years old, “mostly those going out for essentials or work”. (PNA)


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