DOH: With lab output down during holidays, expect recorded COVID-19 cases to go up

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2021 08:39 PM

MANILA—The Department of Health on Friday said tests conducted by laboratories went down significantly during the holiday season, which is why current COVID-19 numbers might not be reflective of the real situation.

“From the time the holidays have set in hanggang ito pong mga January 3 or 4, nakita natin yung 30% at the most, 30% ang ibinaba ng output of our laboratories. And that has affected our trends or the reported cases a lot,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(From the time the holidays have set in until around January 3 or 4, we saw that at most the laboratory output went down by 30%. And that has affected our trends or the reported cases a lot.)

Vergeire said this after some officials commented on the seemingly improving COVID-19 number in the country.

“This is not really for us to do some analysis. Kailangan pa natin makita ang further numbers in the coming days for us to really confirm na talagang pabababa ba o tataas ang kaso,” she said.

(This is not really for us to do some analysis. We have to see the numbers in the coming days for us to really confirm if cases are really doing down or if they will go up.)

She pointed out that cases over the holidays might not have been recorded yet because of the incubation period of the disease. She also noted that the trend is “not stable” since daily numbers have been fluctuating recently.

Vergeire explained that people were going out throughout the whole holiday season, which might result in more infections.

“Aantayin natin kung sakaling magkakaroon ng epekto hanggang sa makatapos ang buwan na ito,” she said.

(We’ll have to wait if this will have an effect until the month ends.)

There are also other challenges, according to her.

“Nakikita natin ang variant na sinasabi ng virus na ito (First of all we are seeing this new variant),” she said. “Based on evidence, this increases transmissibility from 60 to 70%.”

“So we are not out of the woods yet,” she said.

One expert said this week that the new variant from the United Kingdom may result in COVID-19 cases increasing 15-fold.