MANILA — While the reported decline in new COVID-19 cases is a reason to be optimistic, Filipinos should still be cautious of the virus, an official leading the country's pandemic response said Tuesday.
Researchers from the University of the Philippines on Sunday said Metro Manila— the country's coronavirus epicenter— and the neighboring Southern Tagalog region are starting to flatten the pandemic curve, as the virus reproduction rate in the two regions is estimated at 0.95, below the threshold of "1."
"Iyon pong tinatawag nating optimism with caution, dapat i-caution pa rin natin na huwag tayong magkumpiyansa," COVID-19 policy chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr said in a virtual press briefing.
(It should be optimism with caution. We cannot be complacent.)
The reported declining trend in new virus infections can be attributed to increased public awareness on the needed minimum health standards such as wearing of face masks, he added.
"Nakita natin dahil siguro tumaas na rin ang consciousness ng ating mga mamamayan ay talagang nag-a-ano na sila ng face shield at saka face mask kaya bumaba po ang nakita nating reproduction," Galvez said.
(We saw the increased consciousness of the people that they are now wearing face shields and face masks that's why the reproduction rate of the virus is slowing.)
Earlier, the government required the public to wear face shields on top of the mandated face masks in public transport and commercial establishments.
The government is looking at September as a "transition point" to more relaxed virus restrictions, Galvez said after it made quarantine protocols implemented on Sept. 1 effective for a month instead of the usual 15-day period.
"Nakikita po namin itong September po na ito maganda po ito na maging transition," Galvez said.
(We see September as a good period for a transition.)
Only three areas remain under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine until the end of the month: Iligan City, Bacolod City, and Lanao del Sur.
The rest of the Philippines have eased virus restrictions to general community quarantine and modified GCQ.