The Philippines logged on Tuesday 1,409 new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), bringing the total to 2,806,694, the lowest number of daily cases reported in almost nine months or since the 1,414 infections on February 23.
All laboratories were operational, while 14 laboratories were not able to submit their data on time, the Department of Health reported.
The DOH also reported 30,544 active cases, of which 60.7 percent were mild, 8 percent were asymptomatic, 4.2 percent were critical, 10 percent were severe, and 17.05 percent were moderate.
But Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the public should not expect COVID-19 to simply disappear at this stage.
“It is wrong to think at this stage that the COVID will disappear. It is best to assume that it will stay with us and therefore we must learn to coexist with it,” Duque said at the Laging Handa briefing.
Duque said the Philippines was doing the same preparation for the possibility that the virus may become endemic.
Duque said, should the virus become endemic, the Philippines must strictly monitor its healthcare capacity system and ensure it will not reach the critical level as well as protect its vulnerable population.
“To avoid this, we need to ensure that we will not reach the red line in terms of the health system capacity and to continue the protection of the vulnerable population,” he said.
Duque said the government must continue its vaccination program, implement the minimum public health standards, improve the health system capacity, implement the border control measures, and continue surveillance measures.
Alert Level 1 possible
The Alert Level 2 in effect over the National Capital Region may further deescalate to Alert Level 1 if the country’s COVID-19 infections decrease to 500 per day, the DOH said.
Duque, during the Laging Handa briefing, said the de-escalation of the alert level would depend on the data.
“If the numbers will continue to go down, for example, we had a little over 2,000 yesterday. So, it’s possible that if it’s below 1,000 or 500 per day, we may go down to Alert Level 1,” he said.
Duque said lowering the alert level would allow more sectors to open up.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said NCR had recorded a seven-day average daily case count of 385.
“That is very good news for us because these are the numbers that we had been seeing since the start of the year before the increase in cases happened,” Vergeire said in an interview on CNN.
However, she warned that this should not lead to complacency.
Meanwhile, the independent monitoring group OCTA Research projected that average cases in the region may decrease to 200 by the end of November.
“Based on current trends, the projected number of cases are (sic) shown in red. If this trend continues, we expect cases in the NCR to average less than 200 per day by the end of November,” OCTA said.
“But we must continue to observe minimum public health standards,” it added.
The reproduction number—the number of people who may be infected by one case—in NCR was recorded at 0.38, OCTA said.
The DOH called on establishments to strictly implement the capacity limit for customers as it expressed alarm of overcrowding in public amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re very worried when we saw the pictures, the videos across the country in different establishments, open spaces,” Vergeire said on CNN Philippines.
Under Alert Level 2, establishments are urged to have 50 percent capacity indoors for fully vaccinated adults (and minors, even if unvaccinated) and 70 percent capacity outdoors.
“But what we have seen over the weekend, it was exceeding the 50 percent capacity. We are calling on establishments to strictly enforce these protocols that we have issued through the IATF,” Vergeire said.
The DOH previously warned that with greater mobility, lower adherence to protocols, a lower detection-to-isolation time, and the same vaccination rates, active infections can go as high as 52,393.
Active cases can go as low as 2,113 if mobility, adherence to public health standards, and detection-to-isolation time are maintained and vaccination rates are improved, the DOH said.
“We just want to reiterate our request and our warning to our public that any time that we loosen our restrictions, and we fail to comply with the minimum public health standards cases will again increase. We are still not out of the woods,” she said.
“I appeal to our public that we do not want to go back to the lockdowns that we’ve had in the previous months, so hopefully we will all comply to the different public health standards,” she said.
Based on data in the last 14 days, the 14 non-reporting laboratoriescontribute, on average, 1.6 percent of samples tested and 2.0 percent of positive individuals.
“The lower deaths reported today is due to technical issues encountered with COVIDKaya,” the DOH reported.
The DOH also reported 46 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 44,567.
The DOH also reported 2,941 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,731,583.
The positivity rate was at 5.4 percent, based on test results of samples from 30,716 individuals on November 7. This is near the World Health Organization’s requirement of less than 5 percent.
The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 42 percent of ICU beds, 32 percent of isolation beds, 25 percent of ward beds, and 24 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 37 percent of ICU beds, 27 percent of isolation beds, 25 percent of ward beds, and 23 percent of ventilators, were in use.