MANILA - The coronavirus disease is spreading "faster than before," a public health expert warned Monday, as the number of daily reported cases recently breached 3,000.
"I'd like to appeal to the public that be aware of the fact that cases are rising once again. We have data to show that the rate of rise is unfortunately faster compared to before and this requires us to be very vigilant in terms of what we can do to protect ourselves," said Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, who is part of the technical working group that advises the Department of Health.
The presence of highly transmissible variants of the virus may be a factor in the increase in cases, said Lim.
Lim said it was still "difficult" to determine what's driving the surge and experts were still monitoring the data, but she acknowledged the presence of 2 more contagious variants of COVID-19.
To date, the number of South African or B.1.351 variant cases in the country has climbed to 58 while that of the UK variant or B.1.1.7 already reached 118.
Lim, an infectious diseases expert, urged the public to strictly observe the minimum health standards such as wearing of face masks and face shields and observing physical distancing.
"This sounds very simple but when you look at the data, they say that these particular measures when you implement them consistently and correctly, they can provide almost the same degree of protection that some of the vaccines that will be able to give," she said in an interview on ANC.
Though Philippines already started its COVID-19 inoculation drive last week, with healthcare workers the first in line to get vaccinated, Lim stressed the public should not let their guard down. It will take a "significant amount of time" before the jabs will be administered to the general population, she added.
Metro Manila, home to about a tenth of the country's population, remains under the general community quarantine status by end of March.
"The thing we need to remind everybody regardless of whatever community quarantine status is imposed or whatever measures are imposed it's really up to us to behave as if this is ECQ (enhanced community quarantine)," she said.
A group of experts on Sunday warned that the increase in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila in the past week is higher than the surge in infections in the region last year.
The OCTA Research Group forecasts the country will record 5,000 to 6,000 new cases per day by the end of March if the current reproduction rate continues.
As of Sunday, the Philippines has tallied 594,412 coronavirus infections, of which 545,853 recovered and 12,516 died from the disease. Some 3,276 patients are deemed infectious or considered active cases.
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