Philippines at 'critical risk' level for COVID-19, says ex-gov't adviser

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2021 09:39 AM | Updated as of Sep 12 2021 09:45 AM

People pass in front of a mural showing an image of a person wearing mask on 5th Avenue in Caloocan City on August 30, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
People pass in front of a mural showing an image of a person wearing mask on 5th Avenue in Caloocan City on August 30, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines is at "critical risk" level for COVID-19, a former adviser for the government's task force against the pandemic said Sunday, a day after the country recorded a new record of daily fresh coronavirus cases.

The country on Saturday posted a single-day high of 26,303 infections, bringing its total to 2,206,021 of which 185,706 were active. 

The nationwide healthcare utilization rate is at 77 percent, while it is at 76 percent in Metro Manila, said Dr. Tony Leachon.

Healthcare capacity is considered "high-risk" when its occupancy reaches more than 70 percent and "critical risk" at 85 percent, Leachon said.

"'Yan ay delayed ang pagre-report. Critical na 'yan kasi ang report on the ground, wala ka nang malapitan na hospital," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(Its reporting is delayed. It's already critical because reports on the ground say hospitals are full.)


Leachon opposed the government's planned easing of quarantine status in the capital region and shift to granular lockdowns implementation in a bid to reopen the economy.

"Sobrang natatakot, kasi meron kang highest-recorded cases tapos mag-granular lockdown ka, eh may mobility ka pa rin d'yan eh. Ang experiment, 'di ginagawa during crisis, maski sa medisina," he said.

(It's really scary because you recorded highest-recorded number of cases, then you will enforce granular lockdown where people still have mobility. Experiments are not done during crisis, even in medicine.)

"Ang (The) fundamental principle is health is the first wealth. You cannot open the economy if virus transmission is uncontrolled... Meron kang plano pero hindi mo hinanda ang infrastructure. Mag-granular ka nang hindi ready ang infrastructure. You are setting us up to fail."

(You have a plan but the infrastructure is not ready.)

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The Philippines is projected to tally 30,000 daily fresh cases by end of the month if infections continue to rise, he said.

It is averaging 20,000 cases daily with a growth rate of 14 percent versus the previous week, said Guido David, fellow at OCTA Research Group.

"It’s very possible makita natin ang (we will see) 30,000 cases before end of the month," David said in a separate interview on TeleRadyo.

"Una nating surges last year, July, nag-peak 'yung 6,000. Noong May-April, 15,000 ang pinakamataas, then bumaba siya. Ang kalkulasyon ko d'yan, 30,000 at the end of the month," Leachon said.

(Our surge in July last year peaked at 6,000. In April to May, it reached 15,000, and then it declined. In my calculation, it will reach 30,000 at the end of the month.)

Some 1,200 of the cases announced on Saturday were backlog cases from the previous day, but the numbers were still high, according to David. Metro Manila also logged a new record-high of 9,061 cases from its previous peak of 7,900, he added.

Areas that experience an increase in infections aside from the capital region were Iloilo, Batangas, and Pangasinan, among others, David said.

David and Leachon agreed that government needs to step up its COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to identify new cases. The country should double its daily testing rate to 150,000 from 75,000, they said.

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