MANILA - Half of the provinces and cities in the Philippines have been reporting more COVID-19 cases in recent days, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.
"Kalahati po ng ating mga probinsya at siyudad ay nagpapakita na ng pagtaas ng kaso," Health spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.
(Half of our provinces and cities are showing an increase in cases.)
The DOH did not name areas where the increase in cases was being observed, but the national government earlier announced that Metro Manila will be placed under the strictest lockdown classification starting August 6.
There is also an uptick in the number of COVID-19 related deaths in the Philippines, Vergeire said.
"Fina-flag na po natin na tumataas na ang numero ng mga namamatay based on our analysis," she said.
(We are already flagging an increase in deaths based on our analysis.)
"Dumadami po yung severe and critical cases... We need to focus on our vulnerables para mapigilan natin ang mga pagkakamatay sa ating bansa," she said.
(Severe and critical cases are rising... We need to focus on our vulnerables so that we can stop the deaths in our country.)
The DOH said the Philippines' "case fatality rate remains below 2 percent" but did not give particular figures on the said increase in deaths.
While the DOH is already assuming that there is community transmission of the more virulent Delta variant of COVID-19, Vergeire also attributed the case increase to mass and social gatherings being held despite the pandemic.
"Nababalitaan din po natin ang sunod-sunod na violations sa ating public health protocols," she said.
(We also received reports of several violations in our public health protocols.)
"Pinipigilan po natin na ma-overwhlem ang ating healthcare system... Patuloy po tayong umiwas sa mass gatherings at pagtitipon para makaiwas tayo sa pagkakahawa-hawaan," she said.
(We are trying to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed... Let us continue to avoid going to mass gatherings and congregations to avoid contagion.)
The presence of the Delta variant, which is "60 to 100 percent more transmissible" than the original COVID-19 strain, is contributing to the case spikes, the Health spokesperson said.
"'Yung dating 15 minutes para masabi na close contact ka, hindi na applicable for the Delta variant," she said.
(The 15 minutes exposure for you to be considered a close contact is no longer applicable for the Delta variant.)
"In just a matter of seconds, puwede ka na ma-infect dahil ang taas ng viral load," she said, noting that Delta variant carriers have "1,000 times more viral load" than other COVID-19 patients.
(In just a matter of seconds, you can be infected because of the high viral load.)
The DOH has been increasing bed capacity and funds in hospitals to help health facilities cater to new COVID=19 patients, she said.
"Mas prepared po tayo ngayon. Mas may armas po tayo ngayon... Mayroon po tayong mga bakuna," she said.
(We are more prepared now. We have weapons now... We have vaccines.)
"Mas kaya natin ngayon pero kailangan natin ang tulong ng bawat isa," she said.
(We are more capable now but we need each and everyone's help.)
As of August 1, 2021, the Philippines has 63,646 active COVID-19 cases, according to data from the DOH.