DOH: Lax adherence to COVID-19 curbs may lead to 500,000 active cases in May


Posted at Apr 14 2022 11:38 AM

Commuters line up to take the EDSA Bus Carousel at the Main Avenue station Cubao, Quezon City on April 13, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File 
Commuters line up to take the EDSA Bus Carousel at the Main Avenue station Cubao, Quezon City on April 13, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA — Waning compliance with pandemic guidelines could push active coronavirus infections to around half a million by the middle of May, the Department of Health warned on Thursday. 

The DOH said it observed a 12-percent decline in Metro Manila's compliance with minimum public health standards (MPHS) from March to April. Nationwide, this figure was at 7 percent, said the agency. 

"Analysts determined that decreases in MPHS compliance could translate to large increases in the number of active cases," the health department warned in a statement. 

It said a 20-percent decrease in compliance at the national level could lead to around 34,788 active cases, while a 30 percent adherence decline might push the cases up to 300,000. 

Within Metro Manila, estimates showed that a 50-percent decrease in MPHS compliance may lead to around 25,000 to 60,000 new cases per day, bringing the number of the region's active cases to almost half a million by mid-May, the DOH said. 

This is "more than three times higher than the active cases during the Omicron wave’s peak in January, it added. 

Metro Manila and dozens of other areas are under the loosest pandemic alert level until April 30. This allows all establishments and activities to operate at full on-site capacity, with face-to-face classes subject to the approval of the Office of the President. 

Data from the Australian Tuberculosis Modelling Network (AuTuMN) Team show that the entry of a new variant that is 2 times more transmissible than omicron could lead to a peak of around 2,418 intensive care unit admissions in Metro Manila as early as mid-May. 

This peak is 2.6 times higher than the 666 admissions last seen in January 2022, and 8.6 times higher than the current 253 admissions, the Health department noted. 

But if the public complies with protocols and gets vaccines and booster shots, the DOH said the number of active cases nationwide could decrease and then plateau to 16,934 in mid-May from 26,256 as of April 12. 

Lower transmission will bring down the likelihood of new variants, while high vaccine coverage will protect against infection and severe disease, said the agency. 

“Numbers do not lie. The good news is, at this point, these are all still projections. We can still avert these estimates in favor of better scenarios," said DOH spokesperson and Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

She also urged the public to wear well-fitting face masks, ensure proper ventilation in public spaces, and isolate when sick. 

"These will go a long way to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our entire community from the harm that is COVID-19,” she said. 

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