Vergeire: Christmas 2022 will be ‘totally different” with better COVID-19 safeguards

Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said Wednesday the country may see a better Christmas now considering the higher vaccination rate among Filipinos and more prepared hospitals.

Vergeire made the statement during the last leg of the government’s three-day “Bakunahang Bayan” COVID-19 vaccination drive set from December 5 to 7, aimed to inoculate more children aged 5-11 and give booster doses to the rest of the population.

She recalled how in 2021, hospitals became full of patients due to the spread of the Delta variant, that some of them had to set up patient beds in hospital parking lots. Back then, people were also lining up to get supplies of oxygen tanks.

“Ayaw na ho nating bumalik sa dating estado,” Vergeire said, stressing the importance of protection that vaccines give against severe forms of COVID-19.

(We don’t want to go back to that previous state.)

“Ngayon, laging tinatanong sa ‘kin kung kamusta ang Pasko natin ngayong 2022 kumpara sa Pasko noong 2021 at 2020. Lagi kong sinasagot it will be totally different. Ito po ay kakaiba sa mga naging Pasko natin noong mga nakaraang dalawang taon dahil ngayon, punong-puno na tayo ng armas para labanan ang COVID,” she added.

(I am always asked how our Christmas this year will be compared to Christmas in 2021 and 2020. I always answer that it will be totally different. This is different from the Christmas we had in the past two years because now, we have complete guards to fight against COVID-19.)

At least 73.7 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 21 million have received their booster shots, based on the DOH’s national COVID-19 vaccination dashboard.

Vergeire also pointed out the availability of antiviral medicines that COVID-infected individuals could take so that their symptoms would not progress.

She also took pride on how hospitals are now more ready to admit and treat COVID-19 patients as compared to the previous years.

“Ang pinaka-importante, lahat ng ospital natin ngayon ay handang-handa na mag-admit ng pasyente at mag-gamot ng mga pasyente. Ang sabi nga nila, naging eksperto na ang mga doktor natin dito sa Pilipinas sa paggagamot ng COVID-19. Simula 2020 hanggang sa ngayon, nanggagamot sila ng COVID-19. Alam na alam na nila kung paano nila maisasalba ang buhay ng ating kababayan,” she added.

(Most importantly, all our hospitals are now ready to admit and treat patients. As they say, our doctors here in the Philippines have become experts in treating COVID-19. From 2020 until now, they are treating COVID-19. They know very well now how they can save the lives of our countrymen.)

Based on DOH’s latest data, at least 6,662 beds were occupied, while 21,640 were vacant as the bed occupancy in the country stood at 23.5% as of Sunday, December 4.

The Philippines also recorded 883 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, while the tally of active cases went down to 17,481. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News

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