Decline in Philippines' COVID-19 cases slows: health dept

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2022 03:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 18 2022 03:49 PM

People spend time and exercise outdoors as the capital region remains under the loosest COVID-19 alert level on March 10, 2022 at the Pinagbuhatan Shrine in San Juan City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
People spend time and exercise outdoors as the capital region remains under the loosest COVID-19 alert level on March 10, 2022 at the Pinagbuhatan Shrine in San Juan City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


MANILA (UPDATE) - The decline in the country's COVID-19 cases has slowed down, the Department of Health said Friday.

"Our epidemic curve shows that while a swift decline followed a peak of cases, this decline has markedly slowed down over the past weeks," said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The Philippines logged an average of 534 virus infections each day from March 10 to 16, which is 29 percent lower than the previous week's daily average of 752 cases, according to data presented by Vergeire. 

Nearly half or 49.96 percent of hospital admissions were mild and asymptomatic cases, while 37.76 percent were moderate and 12.47 percent were severe and critical cases, based on DOH data.

The country has yet to detect the "deltacron" or a recombinant variant of the delta and omicron, and the omicron subvariant BA.2.2, said Vergeire.

The BA.2.2 is a combination of omicron subvariants BA.1 and BA.2 first detected in Israel in a patient who presented mild symptoms, she said.

The omicron subvariants BA.1 and BA.2 drove the surge in the Philippines' COVID-19 cases last January, Vergeire noted.

"We're closely monitoring at katulad ng sabi ng ating ibang eksperto I think the Philippines has been blessed dahil nauna po tayo dun sa BA.2 nitong Enero dahil nakikita po natin ngayon sa ibang parte ng Europe at ibang bansa ngayon pa lang pumapasok ang BA.2 sa kanila," she said.

(We're closely monitoring and as some experts have said, I think the Philippines has been blessed that we've already had the BA.2 variant last January as we see that this has just arrived in parts of Europe and other countries.)

"Hanggang sa ngayon wala pa po tayong nade-detect na deltacron dito sa ating bansa. Nakabantay po tayo sa ating borders."

The country has detected the BA.2.3 subvariant, said Dr. Edsel Salavana, member of the DOH technical advisory group.

"Yung sa 'tin kasi dito may distinct mutations din, sa atin is BA.2.3 so magkakalapit lang talaga ang genetic provenance n'yan. So we actually expect kung meron na tayong tinatawag na hybrid immunity, that's when you get mild breakthrough infection, protective 'yan against BA.2.2," he said.

(Here in the country we also have distinct mutations such as BA.2.3 so the genetic provenance is really close. We actually expect that we have hybrid immunity, that's when you get mild breakthrough infection, it's protective against BA.2.2.)

"Even if makapasok yan dito, chances are 'di na 'yan magdudulot ng kasing-laking spike dahil meron na tayong exposure dito."

(If ever this subvariant enters the country, it's unlikely we'll experience a huge spike because we've already had exposure to this.)

The public should remain vigilant and practice minimum health standards, Salvana reiterated.

The DOH will again issue daily case bulletins if there is an uptick in virus infections, Vergeire said.

"As soon as there would be an increase in the number of cases, we will immediately call our local governments, inform the public about this," she said.

"Cases are still being reported in our daily tracker. Anybody at all can still access our daily tracker and get our cases there."
 

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