MANILA - The Philippines must be ready for a "worst-case scenario" against the possible spread of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant, an expert said Wednesday.
Dr. Gene Nisperos, board member of non-governmental organization Community Medicine Development Foundation, raised alarm over the lack of testing and slow pace of vaccination rollout to rein in the transmission of Delta variant in the country.
"I understand their very strict criteria to say that community transmission is happening, but I can't assume. If we want to err on the safe side then we have to prepare for the worst-case scenario and that's being prudent," he told ANC's "Rundown".
"We can't say, 'Hey, we don't have, there's no evidence of community transmission therefore it's not happening.' We've heard that before. We've heard that last year when this whole pandemic started," he added.
The Philippines now has 8 active cases of the Delta variant, following retests on patients previously tagged as recovered.
The Department of Health on Tuesday admitted there may be undetected infections of the highly contagious variant. Of the 8 active cases, 4 were in Cagayan de Oro, 1 was in Manila, another 1 was in Misamis Oriental, while 2 others were Filipinos who arrived from abroad, the agency said.
To halt another surge, health authorities should prepare communities for the presence of the Delta variant, which is responsible to the new waves of the disease in parts of Asia, Nisperos said.
"We don't want to be caught flatfooted again like what happened to the last surge where people are dying outside hospitals," he said.
In March, the country experienced a surge in coronavirus cases, tallying as much as 10,000 cases a day.
Nisperos called on government to conduct more testing and contact tracing.
"Intervention should happen whether or not we have actual proof that there's community transmission... I think the most prudent step is to ramp up testing and contact tracing," he said.
"Both of which are essential and have been the call of most people. Both of which have largely been ignored by the current team -- the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) [and] the National Task Force Against COVID-19," he added.
On Tuesday, the country reported 4,516 new coronavirus infections, raising its tally to 1,517,903. So far, some 26,844 people have died from the disease.
As of July 18, the Philippines has administered over 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since it began its inoculation drive in March. Of the figure, over 10.3 million were given as first dose while more than 4.7 million were second jabs.