Visitors enjoyed the Christmas Miracle Garden-themed displays at the public plaza in Calasiao, Pangasinan on November 28, 2022. STAR / Cesar Ramirez
MANILA, Philippines — With less than a month before Christmas, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said active COVID-19 cases in the country may reach a total of 18,000 by December if compliance with public health safeguards continues to decline.
At a media forum yesterday, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Dr. Alethea de Guzman said if compliance with minimum public health standards will continue to decrease especially with the upcoming holiday season, there will definitely be an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“If our minimum public health standards (MPHS) compliance further decreases, our daily cases may probably range from 1,114 to as high as 2,294 by the end of December, and our active cases may also reach a total of 18,000 by December,” De Guzman said, citing projections made by FASSSTER, a web application for creating disease models for diseases and for visualizing syndromic surveillance.
“The holiday season will mean more interactions by people. Social distancing will not be observed, and expect a decrease in compliance to minimum public health standards,” she pointed out.
At the same time, De Guzman said there is also a need to take a look at the projection made by the Australian Modeling Network (AuTuMN) in a scenario where there will be no new variant of concern.
“If no new variant of concern will enter the country, we might not see a rise in the country’s hospitalization rate. Again, cases could go up but they will not translate into significant increases in our hospitalizations,” De Guzman stated.
However, De Guzman added that if an immune escaping variant that is much more transmissible enters the country, we could see a rise in the number of cases getting hospitalized.
“But these are actually outcomes that we can prevent by increasing our vaccinations, and that even if our hospitalizations increase with the presence of these variants, we can prevent severe outcomes and even fatalities resulting from an immune escaping variant or a more transmissible variant,” the health official said.
“We need to maintain that high immunity wall not just for ourselves. The reminder is not for me alone or you alone but it’s for your family, it’s for your circles to ensure that everyone has that high protection against COVID-19,” she added.
For his part, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvaña said that “because of vaccination, because we already know how to deal with this, we will not experience what we’ve gone through before with the Delta variant in terms of hospitalizations. Even with the worst case scenarios and with the presence of new variants, we have already done a lot of work in terms of vaccinating our population and at the same time, we continue to provide boosters also,” he concluded.
1,083 new cases
The DOH recorded 1,083 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the country’s caseload to 4,034,658, with some 18,507 active cases. The DOH also noted that COVID-19 recoveries have reached 3,951,543 while 64,608 deaths were recorded.
For the past two weeks, Metro Manila is leading with 4,094 cases, followed by Calabarzon (1,958), Western Visayas (1,182), Central Luzon (1,653) and Central Visayas (1,022).
The DOH also reported a total of 31,701,306 individuals underwent COVID-19 testing, including 8,352 individuals who were tested last Nov. 27. – Sheila Crisostomo