Philippines cannot say COVID-19 is controlled already — DOH s Vegeire

The Philippines will not declare anytime soon that it has already controlled the COVID-19 pandemic as there are still uncertainties, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire issued the remark a day after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the country will ask the World Health Organization if it can declare that the pandemic has been controlled.

“We are not going to declare this soon. We are just coordinating with WHO on the process and the determinants of disease control or containment,” Vergeire said in a message to reporters.

During a media forum, Vergeire said the agency cannot yet definitely say that the country has controlled the virus.

“We can’t definitely say that. Marami pang uncertain na nangyayari sa atin. Na-experience na natin in the past na napababa ang mga kaso but after some time, tumaas pa rin. So we need a longer time to evaluate,” she said.

(We can’t definitely say that. There are still a lot of uncertainties. We experienced in the past that cases will go down for a time but then they’ll increase, so we need a longer time to evaluate.)

According to the Health undersecretary, each region in the country is facing a different situation on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maaring ang ating NCR, mataas na ang bakunahan dito, tapos ang ating community response has been intensified. But if we compare to other areas in the country, some of the areas in the country, mababa pa rin ang pagbabakuna,” she said.

(Maybe NCR has high vaccination rates and its community response has been intensified, but if we compare it to other areas in the country, some still have low vaccination rates.)

“Nakikita pa rin natin na kailangan pa natin tulungan ang local governments nila for them to intensify their community response,” she added.

(We see that we still need to help some of the local governments to intensify their community response.)

Health system

Further, Vergeire said a country’s health system must be prepared already for it to be able to declare that it has controlled an illness.

“Kailangan pa pag-aralan nang maigi, further studies, further evaluation, because a lot of things are still uncertain at this point,” she said.

(We need to study this further, evaluate it further because there are still a lot of uncertain things at this point.)

Duque previously said the agency is seeking guidance from WHO following the decrease of the positivity rate in the country, which has been below 5% since November 13, meeting the benchmark of the global organization.

The positivity rate of the Philippines stood at 2.5% on Wednesday as it reported 890 new COVID-19 cases, marking the third consecutive day that less than 1,000 cases were reported.

This brings the total tally to 2,828,660, of which 17,864 are active. — RSJ, GMA News

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