Philippines' coronavirus infections declining; COVID-19 clusters still observed - DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2020 01:03 PM | Updated as of Sep 28 2020 04:25 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Health on Monday acknowledged the seeming decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases announced daily, but there are clusters of infection in some areas of the country.

“Pag tinignan natin 'yung number of cases natin and we look at the trends, 'yung average per week, nakikita natin, oo, bumababa,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing. “Pero makikita pa rin natin merong mga lugar pa rin na merong piling pagtaas ng number of cases.”

(When we look at the number of cases and we look at the trends of average cases per week, we can see that it is decreasing. But we can also see in some select areas the increase in the number of cases.)

“That is why, we always say we cannot be complacent. Kailangan nand'yan pa rin ang health standards (The health standards should be observed). We have to be vigilant,” she added.

Vergeire also said the continued increase in total cases, which is now more than 300,000, is due to a clustering of cases in communities.

“Nand'yan pa rin of course ang ating expanded protocol in testing, kaya mas marami tayong nakukuhang mga positibo ngayon,” she added.

(There is also our expanded protocol for testing that is why we are getting more positive cases.)

The DOH said that as of Sept. 27, there were 2,075 cumulative clusters in the country, 84% of which are in communities. There are also 105 (5%) clusters in health facilities, 36 in prisons, and 185 in other closed settings such as workplaces or homes for the elderly.

Of the cumulative total of clusters, 27% are from the National Capital Region, 20% from Region 4A, 10% from Region 7, and 9% from Region 3.

Despite this, Vergeire said they are seeing improvements in the health sector through the One Hospital Command and OPLAN Kalinga, which helped decongest hospitals. 

She said local government units are also doing active surveillance of cases.

MAJORITY OF COVID-19 CASES HAVE MILD SYMPTOMS - DOH

While total cases have reached more than 300,000, majority of those have already recovered, Vergeire said. The public should also look at active cases or current infections, which stood at 49,242 as of Monday.

She also pointed out that majority of cases have either mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. She dismissed observations that the number of severe and critical cases have increased. 

“It’s not really significant because it is still less than 1 percent,” she said.

The DOH data on Monday showed that 1.5% of the active cases are severe, 3.4% are critical, 8.7% are asymptomatic, while 86.4% are mild.

The UP OCTA Research Group has said that while there is a downtrend, Metro Manila should remain under general community quarantine. 

Health Usec. Leopoldo Vega, who is also the Philippines’ COVID-19 treatment czar, said this does not mean that hospitals should no longer expand beds allotted for COVID-19 cases. 

He said hospitals should be prepared for any eventuality.

Vergeire said the Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19 decides on what quarantine level to implement based not only on the number of cases but also on other indicators, including those not related to health. 

She said it is important for provinces to be able to handle cases in terms of hospital availability.

“So if we see na hindi makakaagapay ang lugar, inspite of hindi madami ang kaso, meron ding times na magdedesisyon ang IATF na itaas (ang quarantine level),” she said.

(So if we see that an area cannot deal with the cases despite not having a lot, the IATF may decide to raise the quarantine level.)