MANILA—A health official on Saturday said the country's active COVID-19 infections could further drop to at least 7,000 nationwide during the December holidays if current trends stayed, as the positivity rate also continued to dip.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, however, noted that the projection made last week depended on the country's mobility, detection-to-isolation response, and the public's compliance to health protocols.
"Kung saka-sakaling current lang ang ating gagawin (if the current trends are being followed) ’yung mobility is still the same as of last week . . . at saka ang detection to isolation at 5.5 days, we will have about 7,000 active cases by December 15 dito sa ating bansa (here in our country)" Vergeire said in a public briefing.
The number of active cases could also go up to 20,000 during the same period if mobility rises to 98 percent, and the public's health compliance decreased by as much as 24 percent.
This, she pointed out, was still lower than the active cases when the projection was made — around 34,000 — and Friday's figure at 23,200.
"Mababa pa rin po at makikita natin na tuloy-tuloy bumababa pero kailangang pag-ingatan po natin by complying with the safety protocols," Vergeire said.
(This is still low and we can see that it will continue to decrease. We still need, however, to maintain this and comply with safety protocols.)
She also reminded the public that the positivity rate was not the only tool to assess the risk level of an area or the country.
The country's positivity rate was below the 5 percent for the past 7 days. The World Health Organization's benchmark is at least 2 weeks.
This prompted some to ask if Metro Manila, home to 13 million, would shift to Alert Level 1 — the loosest quarantine under the government's new quarantine metrics — by December.
"Hindi lang po positivity rate natin para malaman natin kung ano ang risk level ng isang lugar. Kailangan din po natin maalala na kahit bumababa ang positivity rate natin, mayroon pa ring tsansa na tumaas," Vergeire said.
(The positivity rate is not the only basis to check an area's risk level. We need to remember that the positivity rate can still increase.)
"Our hope would be that we will have a better Christmas but we need to be compliant with all our protocols."
During the same briefing, National Task Force Against COVID-19 Spokesperson Restituto Padilla said government is prepared to shift to Alert Level 1 in Metro Manila should the country's pandemic situation continue to improve.
"Mayroon nang mga naka-set na guidelines na puwede nating ipatupad. Yan naman po ay conditional," he said.
(There is already a guideline that we can implement but it is still conditional.)
Padilla is also banking on the government's 3-day national vaccination campaign slated from November 29 to December 1, which aimed to vaccinate 15 million individuals.
Philippine authorities target to vaccinate at least 54 million by yearend to safely revive the COVID-battered economy.
Analysts said the relatively high number of people vaccinated from COVID-19 was be among the reasons of the slow down of new virus infections nationwide, reversing the effect of the Delta variant.
The country posted fewer than 1,500 new infections for the 4th straight day on Friday, data showed.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has so far fully vaccinated nearly 33 million individuals as of Tuesday, while almost 41 million people have received their first dose.
Video from PTV