DOH wants one-week extension of ECQ in NCR Plus

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2021   •   1178

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it is recommending an extension of the enhanced community quarantine re-enforced over Metro Manila and nearby provinces for at least one more week amid an uptick in COVID-19 infections.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the ECQ should “ideally” be implemented for two weeks to see a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections and its effect on the country’s healthcare utilization rate.

The recommendation comes after the Philippines’ daily tally of infections breached 10,000 for the first time since the pandemic began last year.

DOH’s top epidemiologist earlier said that a one-week ECQ period would not be enough to sustain a downward trend in the number of coronavirus cases.

Vergeire said that based on their research, the DOH takes an average of nine days before it can isolate an individual infected with COVID-19, depending on people’s decision on whether to seek consultation when experiencing symptoms and to get tested for the virus.

She also reiterated earlier projections that the country could have up to 430,000 active cases by the end of April if the ECQ was not enforced in the NCR Plus bubble.

Vergeire said an assessment will be conducted to determine the impact of an ECQ extension on public health and the economy.

She, however, stressed that their recommendation is not yet final and that it is being studied by the government’s Task Force for COVID-19 response. -RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Over 514K persons in PH now fully vaccinated vs COVID-19 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 514,655 individuals in the country have received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccines, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.


Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the Philippines has so far administered a total of 2,539,693 doses in 1,047 active vaccination sites as of May 11.


Of this number, 2,025,038 people have received their first dose, including health workers (1,195,381), senior citizens (466,899), and persons with comorbidities (353,842). Around 8,916 individuals who are frontline personnel in the essential sectors have also been inoculated with their first jab.


Cabotaje reported that among the more than 500,000 fully immunized individuals, 35,242 were healthcare workers, 25,070 were senior citizens, and 134,343 were persons with co-morbidities


She also noted that 23 percent of the 1.5 million health workers listed in the vaccination priority have yet to be immunized.


“Many of these are from the other regions kasi nag-prioritize tayo sa NCR (National Capital Region),” Cabotaje said during a Laging Handa briefing.


Cabotaje also reported that as of May 4, the seven-day average of vaccinated individuals per day reached 36,491.


She said the government is targeting to increase the average vaccinees per day this May to more than 70,000, and up to 100,000 in the second quarter to expedite the vaccination rollout.


The health official, however, noted that this would still depend on the country’s vaccine supply.


“Marami na tayong vaccines, so kailangan para ma-meet yung ating target jabs per day, we need to expand the existing number of vaccination sites,” she said.


“Currently, we 1,000 na nagre-report, if they have 100 per day, makaka-100,000 tayo. But it depends on the number of vaccines that they have so they will really look by area, ano ba ang population nila, ano ba yung kailangan nilang ibakuna na number and we will be able to get to the numbers that we have targeted,” she added.


The national government earlier said that it is looking to vaccinate around 70 million Filipinos this year.


It also plans to start the vaccination of the general population by August or September when the bulk of vaccines procured by the government are expected to arrive.

Philippines posts 4,734 new COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Tuesday recorded 4,734 new cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), pushing the total tally to 1,113,547.

In the latest bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said the country’s total number of active cases is at 56,752.

Of this number, 93.4 percent are mild, 2.2 percent are asymptomatic, 1.8 percent are severe, and 1.4 percent are in critical condition.

The DOH said the lower case count is due to the low number of samples received by the laboratories. At least 12 laboratories also failed to submit their data last Sunday.

Ngayong 4 PM, Mayo 11, 2021, ang Department of Health ay nakapagtala ng 4,734 na karagdagang kaso ng COVID-19. Samantala…

Posted by Department of Health (Philippines) on Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The number of recoveries rose to 1,038,175 after 7,837 more patients recuperated from the viral respiratory disease.

The death toll climbed to 18,620 with 59 new fatalities.

The DOH also reported in its bulletin a positivity rate of 12.2 percent out of 32,205 tests.

The case count reflected in the latest bulletin was based on tests conducted on May 9, it added.

2 cases of B.1.617 COVID-19 variant have no travel history to India – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The B.1.617 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant first detected in India has been found in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed Tuesday.

The DOH said the two cases found with the said variant are two male overseas Filipino workers. One patient is a 37-year old male who arrived from Oman on April 10, while the other is a 58-year old male who came from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on April 19.

According to DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea de Guzman, the patients have already been tagged as recovered and released from quarantine after they tested negative for the virus.

 “Yung ating dalawang kaso po have already been tagged as recovered and as mentioned, they are currently asymptomatic,” De Guzman said during an online briefing.

“It’s been more than 2 weeks for one, and almost a month mula nang unang arrival ng isang kaso natin. Yung unang kasong nabanggit natin na nasa region 12 na po ay nag-test negative na po on their repeat PCR,” she added.

 There were no listed close contacts of the two cases, De Guzman said.

 “Dahil ang ating mga kaso naman pagdating ay nailagay na sa quarantine tapos nilipat sa isang isolation facility mula nang mag-test positive, wala po tayong na-detect na close contacts,” she said.

The two patients also had no travel history to India based on their information, De Guzman added.

The B.1.617 variant was first detected in India last October 2020 and is currently found in 46 countries, according to the global genome database (GISAID).

De Guzman said this variant has at least 15 different mutations, with two mutations of significance in the spike region – L452R and E484Q.

Health experts said that the mutation L452R has been associated with increased transmissibility and reduced antibody neutralization, which means that this may help the virus evade antibodies in recovered or vaccinated individuals.

The mutation E484Q, meanwhile, can increase the virus’ binding capacity to the ACE2 receptor and may help the virus escape immune response.

“Further studies are necessary to understand the transmissibility, infectivity, and effect on vaccine efficacy of the B.1.617 variant,” experts said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday classified the B.1.617 variant as a “variant of concern at the global level.” This is the fourth coronavirus variant to be classified as such, joining the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil) variants.

The WHO defines a variant of concern as more contagious than the original form, hard to control or they lead to more severe illness.

The B.1.617 variant contains mutations linked to increase transmissibility, and immune escape.

The Philippines has implemented a 15-day travel restriction until May 14 on inbound passengers from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

The DOH called on local authorities to implement stricter border control to prevent a local transmission of the said variant.



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