More studies needed before PH can say it has controlled COVID spread: DOH

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2021 05:16 PM | Updated as of Nov 25 2021 05:39 PM

People visit the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City on November 19, 2021. As Metro Manila eases age restrictions and increases venue capacities in malls, the NCR mayors have endorsed the restrictions of mobility of minors to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as they believe it is in the best position to decide on the matter. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
People visit the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City on November 19, 2021. As Metro Manila eases age restrictions and increases venue capacities in malls, the NCR mayors have endorsed the restrictions of mobility of minors to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as they believe it is in the best position to decide on the matter. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Further studies are needed before the Philippines can declare it has controlled the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Health said Thursday, amid the decline in new infections and lower positivity rate over the past several days.

The country on Thursday recorded the lowest number of active COVID-19 cases this year at 17,796. It has also kept its daily fresh cases below 3,000 for 24 consecutive days.

It also reported a 2.3 percent COVID-19 positivity rate, the 13th straight day that it remained below 5 percent, the threshold of the World Health Organization. A relatively high rate means there's more virus transmission and people should be tested.

The country's virus cases have declined but there are still a lot of uncertain factors, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

"Marami pang uncertain na nangyayari sa atin. Na-experience na natin in the past na napababa ang kaso but after sometime, tumaas pa rin. Kailangan natin ng (We need a) longer period to assess and evaluate what is happening," she told reporters.

(There are still many uncertain things that can happen to us. We've experienced in the past where we managed to decrease cases but after sometime it increased again.)

"Kailangan pang pag-aralan nang maigi (We need to study this carefully), further studies, further evaluation because a lot of things are very uncertain at this point."

The coronavirus situation in other regions must also be considered, Vergeire said.

"Community response has been intensified. But if we compare to other areas in the country, some areas mababa pa rin ang pagbabakuna. Nakikita pa rin nating kailangan natin tulungan ang local governments nila for them to intensify their community response," she said.

(Community response has been intensified. But if we compare other areas in the country, some areas still have a low vaccination rate. We can see we will need to help local governments for them to intensify their community response.)

"Pangatlo, kailangan handa ang health system kapag nasabi nating nakakapag-control tayo ng isang sakit."

(Third, our health system needs to be prepared when we say we have controlled a disease.)

The widening vaccination coverage in the country has been cited as among key reasons for the decline in new infections observed since last month. 

The government has so far fully inoculated 34.5 million people, while over 43.8 million others have received their first dose, data monitored by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.

It is targeting to fully vaccinate up to 77.1 million for the country to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.

The Philippines logged its first case of the disease on Jan. 30 last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where COVID-19 is believed to have first emerged.