MANILA - The Philippines is now considered as a low risk area for COVID-19, a Health official said on Thursday.
In the past two weeks, growth rate of the virus nationwide has been at -9 percent, while the average daily attack rate from June 13 to 26 was only at 5.42, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea De Guzman said.
"The risk classification nationally is already at low risk," she said in an online press conference.
Areas within the National Capital Region (NCR), once the epicenter of COVID-19 in the Philippines, "are the ones showing the lowest cases," she said.
"NCR is not the one contributing cases. It's areas outside NCR taking up a largest portion of new cases," she said.
The growth rate of new cases in the capital region was at -26 percent in the past 2 weeks, while health care utilization and intensive care unit utilization in the region was at 37.73 percent and 41.66 percent, respectively, according to data from the DOH.
Only Laguna, Davao Region, Western Visayas, Soccsksargen and Eastern Visayas are identified as high risk areas, De Guzman said.
The DOH is investigating why Laguna is the lone NCR Plus area that failed to reduce the virus' transmission in the last 2 weeks, but officials initially reported incidents where there were "less adherence with minimum public health standards," she said.
"They saw gatherings, may nagpapa-social events na. There is a tendency to hold meetings indoors," she said.
Several areas far from Metro Manila remain at high risk due to the high utilization of their hospitals and intensive care units, De Guzman said.
"Ang kanilang health care utilization rate at intensive care utilization rate ay naiiwan at high risk," she said.
(Their health care utilization rate and intensive care utilization rate remains at high risk.)
ICU units in the Davao and Western Visayas regions are both 81 percent full, according to data from the DOH.
Soccskcargen's intensive care utilization rate is at 66.67 percent, while Eastern Visayas' is at 63.44 percent.
"Ang kailangan natin taasan pa ay yung mga level 3, tertiary level hospitals. Ito 'yung mga klase ng ospital na mayroon tayong ICUs," De Guzman said.
(We need to have more level 3, tertiary level hospitals. These are hospitals that have ICUs.)
"Challenging talaga yung pag-convert (Converting hospitals is really a challenge). That is where some out of the box thinking will have to happen," she said.
While the COVID-19 situation in most parts of the Philippines is improving, the country cannot afford to be complacent as another spike in new cases may occur due to foreign variants of the virus, she said.
"Magkaroon lang tayo ng isang superspreading event, posible na papalo na naman tayo pataas," she said.
(If we have just one superspreading event, it is possible that we will have another surge.)
As of June 30, 1.4 million Filipinos have been infected with COVID-19. Of these people, 24,662 died, 1.3 million recovered, while 48,649 are still battling the disease.
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