COVID case bulletin to focus on severe, critical cases; to be released weekly

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2022 03:54 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2022 04:09 PM

People take a stroll at a public square ABS-CBN News
People take a stroll at a public square in Antipolo City on February 28, 2022 on the eve of the downgrade to COVID-19 alert level to 1. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Health will revise its COVID-19 case bulletin to focus on severe and critical cases, and will release it on a weekly basis beginning March 7, its spokesperson said Tuesday.

"Balikan natin objective bakit pinapalitan ang case bulletin. Gusto nating tanggalin ang mindset na numero po ang tinitingnan natin," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a televised briefing.

"We've seen during this omicron situation that the characteristic of this virus has become milder. Mas critical po should be the consequences the population should care about." 

(We should go back to our objective why we're revising the case bulletin. We want to change the mindset of just looking at the numbers. We've seen during this omicron situation that the characteristic of this virus has become milder. The population should care about the more critical consequences.)

She told a separate interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo on Monday night that the revised bulletin will also highlight the ICU bed utilization rate, and when there is a new variant of concern.

"Hindi po kailangan na mag-worry ang ating mga kababayan dahil 'yung public tracker namin na nakikita sa ating DOH website gabi-gabi, hindi natin tatanggalin. So, kung kailangan n'yo ng datos galing sa ating response for the pandemic, meron pa rin tayo," said Vergeire.

(The people need not worry because the public tracker that you can see on the DOH website every night will not be removed. So, if people need data on our pandemic response, we still have those.)

"Yung lang pong (Regarding the) case bulletin, we are going to change how people perceive and how people look at the situation in this pandemic. Gusto natin mas bigyang tuon ng mga tao yung pinaka-importanteng aspeto nitong COVID-19, because we are going to live with the virus already."

(We want the people to focus more on the most important aspect about COVID-19.)

She clarified though that the DOH will continue to record all additional infections even though the focus of the public reporting will only be the number of severe and critical cases, as well as the ICU utilization, just like what other countries, such as Singapore, are now doing.

"Para po bang (sa) TB, hindi naman natin nire-report araw-araw yung may tuberculosis dito sa ating bansa. Ngunit, binabantayan natin maigi ilan ang pwedeng mamatay dito sa tuberculosis na ito. So ganun din po ang gusto nating gawin (dito sa COVID-19)," Vergeire said.

(Just like with TB, we don't report everyday the number of people who get it here in our country. But we are closely monitoring those who may die from tuberculosis. So, that's what we want to do with COVID-19.)

The official said the COVID-19 case bulletin revision is also "part of our transition to our new normal."

"For us to be able to able to move forward, for us to transition dito sa living with the virus, kailangan nating palitan kung paano natin naipapakita ang impormasyon sa ating mga kababayan - na dapat lahat tayo naka-focus tayo dun sa pwedeng maging severe at critical na kaso, at dun tayo ma-focus kung mapupuno ang ospital natin o hindi," she said.

(For us to be able to move forward, for us to transition to living with the virus, we need to change the presentation of information to our fellow countrymen - that we should also focus on severe and critical cases, and on whether our hospitals will be filled again.)

The development comes as Metro Manila and 38 other cities, towns, and provinces deescalated to the lowest alert level starting Tuesday as virus cases continued to decline nationwide.

The health agency receives reports on the public's compliance to minimum health standards "at the end of the day" from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Vergeire said.

"Anumang magiging epekto nitong pagimplementa natin ng Alert Level 1 sa areas natin na 39, ito po ay makikita pa natin in about 10 to 14 days," she said.

(Whatever the effect of the implementation of Alert Level 1 in 39 areas, we will see it in about 10 to 14 days.)

"Maybe tomorrow we can give updates as to compliance with minimum public health standards."

There has been no surge observed following the start of the campaign period, Vergeire said.

"Nag-umpisa na ho ang campaign sorties early part of this year and even last year. Pero nakita po natin wala namang nagiging uptick ng numero ng kaso. Lahat ng areas, patuloy ang pagbaba ng kaso. Lahat po ay nasa minimum to low risk, except for 2 areas dahil meron silang moderate na ICU (intensive care unit) utilization," she said without further details.

(Campaign sorties began early part of this year and even last year. But we've seen no uptick in the number of cases. Virus cases in all areas continue to decline. All areas are classified minimum to low risk except for 2 areas which have moderate ICU utilization.)

The official campaign period for national position candidates in the May 9 elections opened last Feb. 8, although several aspirants already started engaging the public in various parts of the country prior to that. The campaign period for local position candidates will start on March 25.

The DOH also supports the resumption of face-to-face classes even among younger children, Vergeire said.

"Suportado pa rin natin dahil may protocols and safeguards in place para matuloy po itong face-to-face classes," she said.

(We still support it because there are protocols and safeguards in place so face-to-face classes can resume.)

"Kailangan lang magbalangkas ng (We just need to draft) guidelines and of course the approval of the President regarding the further expansion of these face-to-face classes."

The Philippines has recorded a total of 3,661,997 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Monday, of which 52,179 or 1.4 percent are active.

Of those still battling the disease, 298 are critically ill, 1,417 are severe cases, 2,779 are moderate, 47,157 are mild, and 528 have no symptoms.

The country's first case was confirmed on Jan. 30, 2020 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.

More than 63 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as of Feb. 27, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said. A total of 10,137,875 booster shots have also been administered.

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