Public 'more complacent' one year into COVID-19 lockdown, says expert on rising cases

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2021 10:55 AM | Updated as of Mar 15 2021 03:00 PM

Public 'more complacent' one year into COVID-19 lockdown, says expert on rising cases 1
People follow health protocols and fill out contact tracing forms at a mall in Makati City on March 11, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines must pay close attention to the COVID-19 surge it's currently experiencing, a public health expert warned Monday, as coronavirus infections in the country reached over 620,000 a year into the pandemic.

"I don't know whether the correct word to use is more worrisome. It's certainly something that we have to pay close attention to," Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, who is part of the technical working group that advises the Department of Health, told ANC.

Lim noted the rise in COVID-19 cases was the same in July and August last year.

"If that was the situation at that time, we have to be ready for what might happen with this new increase in cases," she said.

Lim urged the public not to drop its guard against COVID-19 even as the country had started its inoculation program.

"I don't really know whether it's an accurate read. But I get this feeling that people are more complacent. Maybe it’s also brought about by the fact we've gone through the first one. And although it was something that you would not call a pleasant experience, people did live through it. They did see that most cases are mild. So maybe that informs the way we react," she said.

"Unlike the first time around, we didn't have any experience which on to base our reactions on. I guess the response was more cautious. I think now people are less so, I have to say. And I guess that really is just a natural response."

She warned of the presence of more contagious COVID-19 variants found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. A new variant has also been detected in the Philippines.

"The longer they (virus) live, the more variations they have the opportunity to develop," she said.

"What we really need to do is to be even more efficient, more effective. Outsmart this virus by putting in place everything we know to be able to stop it from spreading," Lim added. 

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Another expert had also warned that the Philippines may record up to 8,000 daily new COVID-19 cases by the end of the month if the current reproduction rate does not change.

The projection is based on a 1.9 reproduction rate or the number of people infected by a virus patient, according to OCTA Research fellow Guido David.

In the capital region, local chief executives reintroduced tougher restrictions on movement, hoping the 2-week long measure can bring the spike under control.