All PH regions report rise in new COVID-19 cases: DOH

Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2022 07:57 PM

Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire speaks during an interview inside her office at the DOH compound in Manila on June 9, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire speaks during an interview inside her office at the DOH compound in Manila on June 9, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA – All regions in the country continue to see an increase in COVID-19 infections, with 88% of provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent charter cities showing positive growth rates, according to the Department of Health (DOH). 

Based on its regular COVID-19 situationer released to the media, most areas are showing a sharp increase in cases, with the National Capital Region reaching almost 450 cases daily. 

While a slight rise in cases was observed in Mindanao in mid-June, it is now showing signs of plateauing with 50 cases recorded per day. 

Despite increasing infections, all regions remain under low-risk case classification. This is even if all regions have seen positive two-week growth rates with some reaching over 200%.

The positive growth rates, however, have no effect on decisions made by the Inter-Agency Task Force as to what a region’s alert level may be. 

Recently, the IATF decided to heed the recommendations of experts to remove the two-week growth rate as an indicator to determine a region's risk classification and subsequent alert level. 

Former Health Secretary Francisco Duque even said that the two-week growth rate has lost its significance and relevance and may in fact just be an “alarmist” metric. 

In a message to reporters, DOH spokesperson and National Vaccination Operations Center chair Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the two-week growth rate represents the speed of case increase or decrease. 

This was also how health authorities monitored the speed of infections during the Delta and Omicron surges. 

“However, with very low case numbers observed over the past months, we noted that the TWGR was not a suitable metric in classifying areas’ alert levels. Given the very small cases reported, minimal increases in number of new cases may translate to very high TWGRs,” she said. 

The two-week growth rate, according to Vergeire is still used, but only internally. 

“Given that there is the risk of new variants emerging that are more transmissible or immune escaping, we utilize TWGRs as part of our internal monitoring for earlier detection of sudden and large increases that may signal the entry or impact of these emerging variants.”

As such the agency has flagged 89 areas for case increases; 57 have shown positive one-week and two-week growth rates and 32 with either a positive one or two-week growth rate. Lucena City, Bohol and Tawi-Tawi have also logged either a moderate to critical risk ICU bed utilization rate. 

On a national scale, however, ICU utilization remains low-risk with a 15% occupancy rate. 

The agency continues to note a decline in fatalities from the peak of the Omicron-driven surge in January with an average of one death per day in May 2022.