MANILA - The Philippines has brought the COVID-19 crisis under control, a former health secretary said Monday, despite the country's 20th ranking among countries with most coronavirus cases.
Speaking to ANC's "Matters of Fact," Dr. Paulyn Ubial said the country's positivity rate, which means the percentage of tests that come back positive, had significantly decreased.
At the Philippine Red Cross where she leads the molecular laboratory, the positivity rate has gone down to 4 percent in September, 3 percent lower than what was recorded in July and August, she said.
"The spread of disease is actually being controlled. So there is so many things you have to consider when looking at numbers," Ubial said.
The former health official, who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte but was later rejected by the Commission on Appointments, said the government's response to the pandemic had also improved.
The Philippines had conducted more COVID-19 tests, improved its health system capacity and expanded contact tracing efforts to rein in the contagion, she said.
"I think a lot has improved especially with contact tracing. That's where we missed out in the few weeks of this pandemic," Ubial added.
As of Sunday, the country's coronavirus cases has reached 322,497, with 5,776 fatalities and 273,079 recoveries. There are 43,642 patients currently ill with the virus.
According to a running tally from US-based Johns Hopkins University, the Philippines is among countries with most coronavirus infections, with the United States, India and Brazil leading the list.
During the interview, Ubial also warned the public against "pandemic fatigue" wherein people are becoming lax on health guidelines after months of COVID-19-induced lockdowns.
"I think a lot of people are feeling pandemic fatigue and I think it shows in the hotlines that we had for stress and anxiety and also the healthlines, more and more people are calling these numbers for support," she said.
To relieve stress and burnout, Ubial advised the public to change their routine inside their homes such as reading books, meditating or praying.
"One thing we have to watch out for is the pandemic fatigue," she said.
"We have to really pound on our people that the virus is still here. It's not going away, not for a long time. So we have to keep our guards up."