MANILA — The Philippines is now at "critical risk" for COVID-19 transmission, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte that aired early Tuesday.
This comes a day after the country recorded 33,169 new coronavirus infections, a new record-high for the third straight day.
Duque also added that 60 percent of the sample sequence that they have conducted were positive for the omicron variant.
“Base po sa pinakahuling run ng atin pong whole genome sequencing, 60 percent na po sa ating genome na na-sequence ay positive for omicron variant. So siya na po ang pinakanagdo-dominate na variant, whereas before it was the delta,” he said.
(Based on the latest run of our whole genome sequencing, 60 percent were positive for the omicron variant. So, that is the dominant variant now, whereas before it was the delta.)
The health chief noted though that despite the continuous spike in new infections, severe and critical cases are comparatively lower than what was observed during the delta-triggered surge in September 2021.
He called on local government units to enhance their Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate or PDITR strategies.
On the issue of inoculation, Duterte mentioned that restraining unvaccinated citizens from going out is the right of the government.
“As I said, we have the every right to restrain. We cannot wait for a law because ang Congress, recess kayo and passing law is really tedious in a democracy. In the meantime, kung hindi papasa ang Congress na wala pang batas, hindi tayo maka-intervene,” he said.
Duterte urged the public anew to get vaccinated.
The Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, said two manufacturers of self-administered COVID-19 test kits have so far applied for a special certification of their products which they endorsed to the RITM for technical validation.
They have also approved a compassionate special permit for COVID-19 treatment drug Bexovid, the first generic version of Pfizer’s Paxlovid.
The FDA said Pfizer is also expected to apply for the emergency use authorization of Paxlovid by the last week of January. The drug reportedly reduces risk of hospitalization and death by up to 89 percent.
The agency, however, reiterated that these medicines are not substitute for vaccines even as they can help in the fight against COVID-19.
The Philippines recorded a 46 percent positivity rate on Monday, another record high for the sixth straight day. The country is expected to reach the 3-million mark of COVID-19 cases Tuesday, according to the ABS-CBN Data Analytics Team.
— Report from Nico Bagsic, ABS-CBN News