AN infectious disease expert said the country is now ready to lift its public health emergency, given that healthcare facilities are now prepared to manage COVID-19 cases.
“I think the Philippines is ready by this time to remove that public health emergency since we have proven for several months, or even more than one year, that there are fewer COVID-19 cases in hospitals and the community, and we have not been threatened by many deaths,” Department of Health Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said in a public briefing.
Solante noted that at this point, the healthcare facilities “really know how to manage COVID-19,” which include the continuous emphasis on promoting vaccines, especially for those who don’t have booster shots, to at least reduce the number of the country’s COVID-19 cases.
Since public gatherings are now 100 percent allowed, Solante said that Filipinos who are part of the vulnerable population, particularly unvaccinated ones, should keep wearing face masks to stop the spread of the virus.
“It is still very important that we emphasize in these kinds of events that when we have symptoms – cough, fever – we should not force ourselves to attend these kinds of gatherings because we will only add to the number of infections if we have symptoms,” he said.
Under the World Health Organization’s newest guidelines for COVID-19, it said that face masks remain an “important tool” to move on from COVID-19; that’s why everyone is still urged to wear masks, especially if they have exposure and, if they are part of the high-risk populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised.
From the original 14 days of isolation, the WHO said that symptomatic cases would be required to quarantine for 10 days until the patient loses symptoms for three days. And at the same time, if a person has COVID-19 but doesn’t have symptoms, the total number of isolation is five days from ten days.
According to Solante, patients in the high-risk group should avail themselves of Paxlovid, an antiviral agent for coronavirus, to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Health reports say that if a patient is given Paxlovid within five days of noticing symptoms, the medication has been demonstrated to cut the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by 88 percent.
No more 700+ cases?
Despite the series of public gatherings during the holidays and the feast of the Black Nazarene, Solante said health experts are not seeing the possibility of having 700 cases per day by February 15.
The DOH also said it is expecting a fewer number of Filipinos getting infected by COVID-19 by February or March.
The recent tally from the DOH showed that the country’s total COVID-19 caseload since the pandemic began in 2020 reached 4,070,675.
Of the total cases, the DOH said there are currently 196 COVID-19 infections, four deaths, 582 recoveries, and 11,342 active cases in the country.
With this, DOH’s officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire also said in a televised interview that the country’s COVID-19 situation is currently “plateauing” or manageable.
The country’s nationwide positivity rate stood at 2.6 percent, according to independent pandemic monitor Octa Research Group.
Banner Photo Credit: Philippine Information Agency