DOH warns against circulating message about new strain of COVID-19 virus

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2020 04:15 PM

DOH warns against circulating message about new strain of COVID-19 virus 1
Market-goers shop inside Nepa-Q-Mart in Quezon City on August 26, 2020, amid the general community quarantine. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health on Friday said Filipinos should not believe a circulating message claiming that a new strain of the COVID-19 virus is making younger adults sick.

“There is no new strain of the virus here in the Philippines. It is very dangerous and irresponsible to say we have a different strain,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

She pointed out that while local scientists have detected the G614 variant of the COVID-19 virus in the Philippines, “this does not mean it is more infectious or it is more fatal.”

“It is true we have seen an increase in the number of cases due to the gradual opening of our economy but we know that increased economic activities entail increased mobility among our population which of course in turn increases the chances of being infected,” Vergeire said. 

No age group is immune, she pointed out.

Instead, she explained that more of those infected are those in the working age group (20 to 49 years old) “because they are usually the ones going out of houses to go to work and do errands.”

She said COVID-19 deaths are still more prevalent among the higher age group and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

On the claim of the circulating message that COVID wards are full, Vergeire said, “we have seen a decrease in the utilization.”

Vergeire said hospital bed utilization went down to 68% on September 2 from 86% a couple of weeks ago.

“And we have seen this decreasing trend in the past week,” she said.

However, Vergeire said they are still working closely with hospitals to reduce the occupancy rate.

“We advise the public not to fully rely on anecdotal information like this,” she said, referring to the circulating message. She said that while such personal experiences might be true, it’s only based on observations of a few people and is not reflective of the situation in the Philippines.

“We remind the public to always use evidence-based and science-based information,” she said.