Filipinos have given the government’s national pandemic response a high approval rating of 88 percent in the National Capital Region (NCR), 79 percent from Luzon, 92 percent from Visayas, and 80 percent from Mindanao, based on a recent non-commissioned survey by OCTA Research.
“Eight out of 10 Filipinos approve of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This response has always been through the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte together with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
Among the different socio-economic classes, brackets A, B, and C gave the pandemic response an approval rating of 82 percent. Bracket D – lower-middle class gave 85 percent, and Bracket E – the marginalized population gave 68 percent.
Overall, the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach against the pandemic garnered an 83 percent positive response—an above average rating.
A 91 percent positive rating on the willingness to get vaccinated among Filipinos was also recorded. NCR respondents gave a positive rating of 94 percent, Luzon with 90 percent, Visayas with 83 percent, and Mindanao with 93 percent in the same category.
The DOH, through its different campaigns such as the BIDA Solusyon initiatives, RESBAKUNA rollouts, and Bayanihan Bakunahan days—to name a few, aimed to provide protection to the Filipino people throughout the pandemic including the height of COVID-19 cases in January.
This was made possible through the continuous efforts brought by the national government, along with close coordination with different medical institutions, frontline healthcare workers, local government units, the private sector and development partners, as well as partner organizations and stakeholders.
Aside from providing COVID-19 vaccines, other precautionary measures such as vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases are made possible through the Universal Health Care Act, which will aid in giving a more holistic approach to the healthcare system in the country and improve the government’s response against the virus.
“The safe reopening of our economy was made possible not only by the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach but also through the trust, cooperation, and confidence of the Filipino people. With vaccines as our best defense in this pandemic, no one will get left behind as we move forward towards the New Normal,” Duque said.
In related developments, the Department of Health said all of the close contacts of a female Finnish traveler who is the Philippines’ first case of the omicron BA.2.12 subvariant have remained asymptomatic as of Friday.
Six local contacts of the woman who arrived on April 2 also tested negative for COVID-19, while the others were not tested according to current protocols as they were asymptomatic, the DOH said in a statement.
Three of the 30 plane close contacts have returned to their home country and no additional close contacts have been identified, the DOH said.
The Finnish woman traveled to Quezon City and Baguio City to conduct seminars and experienced mild symptoms after 9 days, the DOH earlier said.
The foreigner returned to her country of origin on April 21 after recovering and completing her 7-day isolation, it added.
The BA.2.12 is a subvariant of omicron that comprises majority of the COVID-19 cases in the US, said the DOH, citing data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC).
It is presently not a variant of interest or variant of concern.
Verification and updates are still ongoing on the case of the Finnish woman and 15 other foreign travelers in Palawan who tested positive
for COVID-19, the DOH also said.
Thirteen of the tourists were asymptomatic while two presented mild symptoms from April 27 to 28, the DOH said.
Fourteen were isolated in facilities while one was hospitalized, it added. All 15 foreign tourists were fully vaccinated, the DOH also
Meanwhile, health experts are now strictly monitoring most vulnerable population groups or the immunocompromised in order to better protect them from new coronavirus subvariants, National Task Force Against COVID-19 medical adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa said.
Herbosa said the Department of Health and the NTF had adopted “sentinel surveillance” or the strict monitoring of immune-impaired groups.
“The DOH and the NTF have shifted their approach. We are now into “sentinel surveillance.” We no longer monitor the number of cases every day,” Herbosa said, at the Laging Handa briefing.
“What is more important to us now is the vulnerable population,” he said.
“We keep an eye on those who are hospitalized, and those with weak immunity. The new subvariants, including BA.2.12, are not as deadly as the earlier variants, but those with weak immunity need to be closely monitored. We call this approach ‘sentinel reporting,’” he said.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire pointed out earlier the BA.2.12 sub lineage was “2.5 times more infective but not more severe” than the original Omicron variant.
The DOH said at present, BA.2.12 was neither a variant of interest nor a variant of concern.
“We will monitor those who were hospitalized. Those with COVID-19 who are experiencing mild symptoms and asymptomatic stayed at home, they will be isolated for a few days and then they will recover,” Herbosa said.
“So, it looks like a regular flu, especially for those who have not experienced other illnesses. But people with comorbidity including
those with cancer, kidney disease or those with HIV are at high risk of dying if they become infected with the new subvariants,” he said.
The Philippine Genome Center said no onward transmission of Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12 was detected in the country after health authorities detected its first case in Baguio City.
PGC executive director Dr. Cynthia Saloma said the Omicron BA.2.12 sub lineage was circulating in other countries including Canada, North America, and Europe, which could possibly have led to the Finnish national acquiring the virus.