MANILA — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday went to a commercial hub in Taguig to inspect the establishments’ compliance when it comes to implementing minimum health protocols against COVID-19.
In making his rounds in an area of Bonifacio Global City, Duque held a stick to personally measure the distance between customers.
“Dapat po hindi bababa ng isang metro,” Duque reminded customers, who indulged in holiday shopping 2 days before Christmas.
(Physical distancing should not be less than a meter.)
The embattled health chief, who was recently criticized for his supposed failure to secure an initial stockpile of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, urged customers to continue wearing face masks and face shields, and observe physical distancing.
He, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction over the commercial establishments’ efforts to implement the health measures.
“Maayos ang mga sistema. Ako’y natutuwa sa suporta ng mga management... I am so far satisfied,” he said.
(The system was well implemented. I am happy with the management’s support.)
Meanwhile, as the metro is caught up in a holiday rush, he pointed out that COVID-19 cases in the capital region have been rising, at least in 9 cities.
The Department of Health (DOH) has yet to release a list of these cities.
“Mayroon po tayong patunay na nag-uumpisa yung surge, tumataas na po, lalo na dito sa Kamaynilaan — may mga 9 na siyudad po na mataas na ang bilang ng COVID cases, tumaas ang attack rate, tumaas po ang 2-week growth rate. At harinawa ang kanilang critical care utilization rate ay huwag nang tataas pa sa safe zone,” he said.
(We have proof that the surge has already started. The cases are already rising especially here in the capital region. There are 9 cities where COVID-19 cases have already risen. The attack rate and the 2-week growth rate likewise, rose. We just hope the region’s critical rate won’t rise above the safe zone.)
Should there be a surge in new cases, hospitals could be overwhelmed, he warned.
“Kung hindi po tayo mag-iingat, ma-o-overwhelm na naman ang mga ospital, ang lahat po ng ating facilitites. Kawawa naman po ang ating mga doktor, mga nurses, mga medtech, lab tech kapag nagpabaya po tayo — sila po ang mahihirapan,” Duque said.
(If we won’t take extra precaution, our hospitals and health facilities could be overwhelmed. The state of our frontline health workers will be pitiful if we become lax.)
NEW UK STRAIN STILL NOT IN PH
Duque said that the new coronavirus strain reported in the United Kingdom has not yet entered the Philippines, based on the DOH’s monitoring.
The new variant is believed to be more contagious and distinct from the earlier ones, according to UK scientists.
“Wala pa naman ebidensya na andito na (Philippines) yung new strain, so wala pa yung new strain dito. Pero sa kasalukuyan ang Philippine Genome Center (PGC) gumagawa na po ng pag-aaral ng mga viruses mula po sa mga nagkasakit na mga pasyente,” he said.
(There is no evidence that the new strain is here in the country. The PGC is currently studying the virus strains of our COVID-19 patients.)
“At pinag-aaralan po yung kanilang genetic sequencing kung tawagin, at doon malalaman natin. Ang pinakahuling pag-aaral nila was sometime in September, so itutuloy lang nila, titingnan, then malalaman kung meron bang nakapasok,” he added.
(Our experts are already studying the genetic sequencing [of the virus here in the Philippines.] From there, we would know. The last time they studied it was in September so they would just continue it.)
Local experts have not detected any mutation of the coronavirus that can cause more severe symptoms, he added.
“Marami naman talaga yang (virus) mga strains, mutation, but they’re not mutating significant enough na makakaapekto sa severity o sa virulence. So far, ang mga reports hindi naman po naging malubha yung sakit o yung ika nga infectivity o yung pathogenicity niya ay hindi naman po nagpapakita ng may paglala.”
(There are a lot of virus strains and mutations but they’re not mutating significantly enough to affect the severity of the virus. So far, reports indicate that the new strain won’t make the infection worse.)
As festivities build up for the rest of the month, the health chief urged the elderly to continue to stay in their homes, as they are the coronavirus’ “favorite” target.
He also advised shoppers to plan their trips to the malls, grocery and other establishments, and make a list of items to purchase to limit time spent in these establishments and reduce their chance of contracting COVID-19.
Duque will do hospital rounds next, after December 25, to inspect protocols and COVID-19 response capacity.