COVID-19 cases in Philippines rise anew. Here’s what doctors say

December 31, 2021 - 4:28 PM
New Year's Eve bus station
People wearing face masks as protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) wait to ride a bus going to provinces, a day before the New Year's Eve, at a bus terminal in Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Dec. 30, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Doctors and concerned Filipinos urged others to follow health protocols and get their booster shots following the spike in COVID-19 cases.

The Department of Health recorded 1,623 additional infections or a 6.6% positivity rate on Thursday, December 30.

This brings the total cases to 2,841,260.

Of these, there are 11,772 active cases, 2,778,115 recoveries and 51,373 deaths.

In DOH’s bulletin, the top provinces and cites with the most new cases in the last 14 days by date of onset of illness are:

  • City of Manila – 838
  • Quezon City – 425
  • Cavite – 232
  • City of Makati – 194
  • Caloocan City – 165

Some doctors were alarmed by this.

Tony Leachon, ex-consultant of the National Task Force against COVID-19, provided context on how the uptick of COVID-19 infections can severely impact Filipinos’ lives again in the near future.

“New Surge Woes: Workplace disruption and health human resource shortage. We need to prevent Omicron transmission, even with mild presentations due to 40% vaccination rate in the country which might cause actual or breakthrough infections,” Leachon said.

“This might not actually cause increase in hospitalizations or deaths like the delta variant particularly for the vaccinated individuals but it can cause breakthrough infections in which a person can still contract the virus and spread it,” he added.

Paolo Medina with the Twitter handle @LopaoMD also hoped the public will treat this as another “surge” of COVID-19 infections.

“Ngayon pa lang, aminin na natin na may surge. Ok? Wala nang pakiyeme-kiyeme at hair-splitting sa definition, utang na loob. Tapos, ipaunawa sa mamamayan na NAKUKUHA SA HANGIN ANG COVID-19. Walang saysay ang face shield. Mas maayos na mga face mask, distansiya at bentilasyon,” Medina said.

He also called for ramped up testing and vaccination, particularly among workers.

“Paigtingin ang access sa testing, RT-PCR man o rapid antigen tests. Dalian at gawing hassle-free ang pagliban ng mga manggagawa’t empleyado kung sila’y may sakit o exposures. Ipagpatuloy ang pagbabakuna pero hindi lang ito ang pokus ng response. Nasa komunidad ang frontlines,” Medina said.

Some Filipinos also urged others to stop being complacent, continue observing the mandated health protocols, and get vaccinated.

“Mga beh, di pa tayo covid-free. Be responsible citizens! Follow protocols. Lahat tayo ayaw na ma-lockdown,” one user said.

“At the MRT station, I see people still logging themselves in. Unvaccinated pa rin ba sila? There are still people not wearing masks properly. So many kids roaming around. Too many people partying in some areas. Just because cases dipped doesn’t mean we can be complacent,” another user wrote.

Dr. Guido David of OCTA Research shared on Twitter that the COVID-19 statistics are within the predicted range.

“1,623 new cases within predicted range of 1600 to 2000. High number of deaths,” David said.

Analyst Edson Guido, meanwhile, shared a graph on how the positivity rate skyrocketed this December.

“The positivity rate on Dec 29 from tonight’s DOH Data Drop has increased to 10.4%, the highest in more than 2 months (or since October 22),” he said.

Despite these developments, the national government retained the Philippines’ status to Alert Level 2 from January 1 to 15.

DOH has so far detected four cases of Omicron in the country.