MANILA - The entire Philippines is now considered low risk for COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.
The country currently has a 7-day moving average of 559 virus cases while Metro Manila has a 7-day moving average of 162 cases, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
"Lahat po ng areas natin sa ating bansa maski po yung nasa ilalim ng Alert Level 2, ay low risk na ang kanilang classification," she told reporters.
(All areas, including those under Alert Level 2, are classified as low risk for COVID-19 cases.)
"Salamat po sa ating masigasig na pagbabakuna at pagsunod sa ating minimum public health standards, dahil wala pa rin tayong nakikitang muling pagtaas ng kaso sa kahit anong lugar sa ating bansa."
(Thanks to our enthusiastic vaccination and the public's adherence to minimum public health standards, we have yet to see an increase in cases in any part of the country.)
The Philippines has yet to record a case of the "deltacron" variant or the combination of coronavirus variants of concern delta and omicron, Vergeire said.
"Walang dapat ipag-alala ang ating publiko dahil sa kasulukayan wala pa rin po ang tinatawag na deltacron na hindi pa rin maituturing na variant of concern," she said.
(The public should not worry as currently we have yet to record a case of the deltacron, which is not considered as a variant of concern yet.)
"Kaya naman ang lahat ay hinihikayat magpabakuna kasama na ang booster shots."
(This is why everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated and get their booster shots.)
Government is ramping up its efforts to increase vaccination rate in areas under Alert Level 2 so these can deescalate, Vergeire said.
A total of 1,400,889 individuals were inoculated under the fourth run of the Bayanihan Bakunahan Program as of Monday, according to Vergeire. The vaccination drive will be extended until Friday, she said.
Some 6.5 million senior citizens have so far been fully vaccinated while 1.9 million have received their booster shots, she added.
Meantime, some 8.8 million persons with comorbidities have received their primary series, according to the DOH spokesperson.
Of the total 1,233,017 children aged 5 to 11 inoculated, some 381,433 have been fully vaccinated, Vergeire said. Some 9.7 million children age 12 to 17 have received COVID-19 jabs, she added.
Government employees who will accompany their children to their COVID-19 vaccination may avail of special leave privileges, Vergeire said.
ALERT LEVEL 0
The term "Alert Level 0" was used internally within the DOH and is not recommended to be used by the public as it might result in complacency, according to Vergeire.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier said experts and government advisers were looking into deescalating the country further and whether the mandatory use of face masks would be retained.
"This is a transitional stage where we can go to the next level or to this new regime of alert level system. Yung Alert Level 0 is not a final term yet," she said.
"Kausap natin ang mga eksperto kahapon at sinasabi nga nila baka dapat hindi yun ang gamitin terminology, because it's going to confuse ppl baka akalain wla ana tayong dapat pinangangmabahan."
Local governments must ensure that their PDITR (Prevent, Detect, Isolation, Treat, Reintegration) response is in place and that individuals must observe minimum health standards, Vergeire said.
"One thing is sure, kung sakaling dumating tayo sa punto na 'yan, 'yung individual behavior and individual practices yan po ang dapat manatili," she said.
Practicing health safety protocols must be "ingrained in us," to prevent future infections, according to Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, member of the DOH technical advisory group.
"Dumating man o umalis o magkaroon ng bagong sakit nandun ang habit na yun na magiging useful para makaiwas sa pagdami na naman ng kaso," she said.
(If a new disease comes, we will have these habits that are useful to prevent more infections.)
Video courtesy of the Department of Health