MANILA — The COVID-19 pandemic won't be over soon in the Philippines, the Department of Health said Tuesday, saying the virus is here to say.
But the world is in a "better position" in dealing with COVID-19, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
"Yes, we agree na hindi pa naman natin nakikita talaga ang katapusan nito," she said in a press briefing.
"The virus is here to say. We need to live with the virus. Expectedly, ang numero ng kaso, andiyan pa rin 'yan," she added.
She made the remark after an infectious diseases’ specialist said the end of the pandemic is not yet in sight in the country.
For Vergeire, what is important is keeping the number of COVID-19-related deaths, and severe and critical infections at a minimum.
For September, the country is so far recording an average of three fatalities per day, she said. In August, the country averaged 17 deaths daily.
"Our case fatality up until now is still 1.6 percent. Hindi po 'yan tumaas ng 2 percent. Naike-keep natin at minimum 'yung namamatay dito sa ating bansa," she said.
The death toll from COVID-19 stood at 62,587, latest data from DOH showed.
Vergeire told a presser last Friday that endemicity entails an acceptable number of cases of the disease, a stable death toll, and a high level of immunity among the population.
"We can only declare here in the country that we already at that stage of endemicity when we fulfill all of these conditions... Kailangan pagtrabahuhan natin yung ating coverage ng bakuna, maipataas, tumaas ang wall of immunity," she said.
Vergeire urged the public to complete their primary series of vaccination and those already eligible to avail of booster doses to protect themselves from getting seriously ill.
Courtesy of DOH
Last week, the World Health Organization said newly reported cases of the disease fell to the lowest level since March 2020.
But it warned that the decline in new infections is deceptive, since many countries have cut back on testing and may not be detecting the less serious cases.
Since the start of the pandemic, WHO has tallied more than 605 million cases, with some 6.4 million leading to deaths, although both those numbers are also believed to be serious undercounts.
A WHO study published in May based on excess mortality seen in various countries during the pandemic estimated that up to 17 million people may have died from COVID in 2020 and 2021.
On Sunday, US President Joe Biden declared that the pandemic in the United States was over.
With COVID-19 restrictions largely eliminated in the country and travel having rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, the comments were reflective of the current status of much of US society.
The Philippines logged its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Jan. 30, 2020 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.
As of Monday, the total number of cases stood at 3,923,727, of which, 27,686 are active.
Nearly 72.9 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated against the disease since the inoculation drive kicked off in March last year. Of those, more than 18.8 million have received their booster doses.