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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

To stay calm but be vigilant

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Last week, health authorities noted slight increases in coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 cases and positivity rate in 14 of the 17 local government units in the country’s national capital region, where 13 million people live.

The Department of Health was chasing an OCTA Research citation of an increase in the positivity rate of the percentage of the number of people who tested positive for the disease which prompted them to project a “weak surge” in the next few days.

While the slight increases in cases in Metro Manila rolled eyeballs, authorities have given assurances that the country on the whole remains under low risk.

What really is the percentage of people who need to be immune against COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity?

Some experts say we are still learning about immunity to COVID-19. Most people who are infected with COVID-19 develop an immune response within the first few weeks, but we don’t know how strong or lasting that immune response is, or how it differs for different people.

There have also been reports of people infected with COVID-19 for a second time.

With the increases in cases and positivity rate in the metropolis, the national capital, under Alert Level 1 up to June 15, may return to Alert Level 2 – which would mean more restrictions against the spread of COVID-19 – if cases continue to increase.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has noted that stricter quarantine protocols will be implemented if the rise in cases leads to a significant increase in hospital admissions.

We understand the possibility is just round the corner. If cases continue to increase, hospital admissions may also rise. That scenario will force the shift to a higher alert status: Alert Level 2.

According to government guidelines, Alert Level 2 will be hoisted in areas where case transmission is low and decreasing, healthcare utilization is low, or cases are low but increasing, or cases are low and decreasing but bed utilization and ICU utilization is increasing.

People not covered by these mobility restrictions are allowed to move in areas of the same or different community quarantine classification, subject to reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Except for casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments, business activities will be allowed at 50 percent indoor venue capacity for fully-vaccinated individuals and at 70 percent outdoor venue capacity.

Of course the DOH clarified that escalation would depend on the metrics of alert level system set by the government’s pandemic response task force.

“As long as the admissions and severity of cases in the hospitals do not affect our healthcare utilization rate, Alert Level 1 is still in effect. But, we have to be mindful that continuing increases in the cases might lead to escalation of the alert level,” the department said.

What seems appropriate at this point is for the public to be calm but remain vigilant and be obedient to maintaining health protocols as the virus continues to linger despite the low cases.


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