MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said several Filipino children have caught COVID-19, and cases were high among infants and teenagers.
"Ang matatas na bilang po ng nagkakaroon ay less than 2-years old," Health spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.
(There are high cases among children less than 2-years old.)
"Pagdating ng 15-19-years old, doon natin nakikita na mas mataas kumpara sa ibang age groups," she said. The DOH is, however, yet to release the actual number of Filipino minors who contracted the virus.
(When it comes to 15-19-years old, we see higher cases compared to other age groups.)
As of Sunday, 27,060 Filipino newborns up to 4-years-old tested positive for COVID-19, data from the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.
There were 28,092 Filipinos aged between 5 and 9 years old who contracted the disease, while 38,627 from the 10-14 age group were also infected with the virus.
The highest number of infections among minors were among 15-19-year olds, at 58,931.
The information on infected minors comes days after the national government allowed children as young as 5 years old to go to outdoor spaces in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ.
The policy was enforced after Health officials and experts found that restrictions in activities have negatively affected children who have been forced to stay indoors since last year.
"May science and evidence na lumalabas na ang mga kabataan ay affected na ng mga lockdown," Vergeire said.
(There is science and evidence showing that the youth is affected by the lockdown.)
"Nagkakaroon na sila ng issues... Naha-hamper 'yung kanilang development stages because of the lockdown," she said.
(They are having issues. Their development stages are hampered because of the lockdown.)
While the government has allowed minors to go outdoors, this does not mean that they are exempted from public health protocols, the Health spokesperson said.
"Kahit po natin pinayagan ang mga kabataan na lumabas, kailangan mayroon pa rin safety protocols, she said.
"Kailangan naka-mask, binabantayan..hindi pupunta sa matataong lugar, maintain your bubble," she added.
(Even if we have allowed them to go outside, they still need to follow the safety protocols. They need to wear masks, they have to be supervised... They cannot go to crowded places.)
Children have yet to be included in the government's priority recipients of COVID-19 vaccines, even as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized in June the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for minors as young as 12 years old.
The FDA is also reviewing the application of Sinovac to amend its emergency use authorization (EUA) so that its COVID-19 vaccine can be used on children aged 3 to 17.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) earlier said pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna are preparing to seek Emergency Use Authorizations for their COVID-19 vaccines to be administered to children.
Pfizer is "targeting around September of this year," while Moderna said they might already have child-friendly vaccines by the end of the year, said Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the DOST's vaccine expert panel.