MANILA — An analyst on Saturday urged the public to wear face masks even in open spaces as the country experiences a high COVID-19 positivity rate.
From Sept. 25 to 30, the country's positivity rate was at 15.2 percent, three times higher than the 5-percent benchmark set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Philippines is only testing an average of less than 20,000 daily, according to the ABS-CBN Data Analytics team.
“I’m hopeful that the surge in cases will go down eventually. But it would also really [require] that as individuals, we realize that what we do as citizens is more important than any government program in the fight against COVID,” Prof. Ranjit Rye of OCTA Research Group told ANC.
“That means being vigilant, that means considering wearing of the mask during times of high positivity," he added.
Rye said that commuters must keep wearing face masks at all times inside public transportation.
This, as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has again allowed standing passengers inside public utility vehicles.
“They’re actually quite necessary now especially that we have a new ruling on public transportation. We have public transportation where more people can come in. These are situations where we need to wear a mask - the high-risk situation… The risk of getting sick is quite high,” he said.
Rye, however, admitted that the increase in cases cannot be automatically associated with the easing of the face mask rule.
But experts in OCTA, he said, believe that waning immunity, massive mobility of people with the resumption of in-person classes, the public’s low compliance with the minimum public health standards, and the spread of more contagious variants are driving the spike.
“We are not where we’re supposed to be there yet as a country in terms of immunity. We still need to sustain this booster program,” he said.
Latest data from the Department of Health showed that more than 73 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, of whom, more than 19.3 million have received their booster shots.
“Not getting sick should be the policy of everyone. And protecting themselves and their family against COVID should be the policy of all families. So, for that to happen, we need to get more people boosted,” said Rye.
On Saturday, the Philippines recorded 3,822 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country's total to 3,951,766, according to the DOH.
This is the highest single-day tally since Aug. 14, ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido said.
Of the new cases. 1,692 come from Metro Manila, the highest rate since Feb. 2, while 799 were from Calabarzon, and 349 from Central Luzon.