‘Be careful’, Palace reminds as Covid cases start to peak in NCR

By Azer Parrocha and Filane Mikee Cervantes

June 21, 2022, 6:04 pm

<p>Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (File photo)

MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday reminded Filipinos to continue observing minimum public health standards after the Department of Health (DOH) announced that Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila are “starting to peak.”

DOH spokesperson and Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Philippines recorded a total of 3,051 new Covid-19 cases from June 13 to June 19, which is 82 percent higher than cases reported the previous week.

She said Metro Manila recorded the most cases in the past two weeks with 2,194 infections followed by Calabarzon (659), Western Visayas (375), Central Luzon (324) and Central Visayas (183).

“Wear your masks, social distancing, wash your hands,” outgoing Communications Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar told reporters in an ambush interview.

Andanar acknowledged that it is difficult to avoid crowds nowadays since all establishments in areas under Alert Level 1 are now allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity as long as proof of full vaccination is presented.

“You just really have to be careful, drink your vitamins, eat healthy, don't stay up late, and sleep long,” he added.

He allayed fears that the increase in Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila could lead to higher alert level classification or lockdown.

“Sinabi naman ni Usec. Vergeire na (Usec. Vergeire said) it's not a cause for another surge. Pero kailangan tayong mag-ingat talaga kasi (But we really have to be careful because) it's not only in the Philippines pero meron din sa ibang bansa (but in other countries as well)…you know it's bound to happen, kasi nagbukas na nga iyong ekonomiya eh (because we have reopened the economy),” he added.

De-escalating Alert Level 1 ‘impossible’

Senior Citizen Party-list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes said de-escalating to an Alert Level 0 classification "seems impossible" to achieve now because there are many people who remain unvaccinated and have to get booster shots.

"We are no longer in the conditions that were present in 2020 and 2021. Vaccination levels are much higher now. The only ones who remain most vulnerable to Covid are the unvaccinated and those who have not completed their primary doses and booster," Ordanes said in a statement.

He said the top concern is keeping all the unvaccinated seniors, persons with disabilities, children, teens, and workers safe by getting them inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccines.

"The longer they remain unvaxxed, the more their lives and health are in serious danger. The greater also is the risk that the coronavirus variants will spread among the unvaxxed, unboosted, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, most of the country has become complacent. Few people are getting vaxxed and boosted now," he said.

Citing the latest Department of Health (DOH) data, he said there are still 23 percent of the A2 population (senior citizens) who are not fully vaccinated and many more have not availed of the booster shots against Covid-19.

He also noted that other population segments are also vulnerable, particularly noting that the children, adolescents, and educators should be protected with schools reopening soon in August, September, and October.

Ordanes urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fully approve the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines because these are the ones that have been most effective against Covid-19.

He said the FDA Philippines should also follow the steps of the United States FDA in approving the new 3-dose Covid-19 vaccines for children younger than 5 years old.

"Kaming mga bakunadong lolo at lola ay nangangamba para sa aming mga pinakamamahal na apong younger than 5 years old. (We, vaccinated grandfathers and grandmothers, fear for our dearest grandkids younger than 5 years old). FDA Philippines, please approve the EUA (emergency use authorization) for the new Covid vaccines for kids. Please grant full approval to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines," he said.

"The sooner we have everyone vaxxed and boosted, the sooner we can declare victory over Covid and the exit from the pandemic," he added. 

On Sunday, the DOH recorded 612 new Covid-19 infections, the highest daily tally since the 690 infections registered on April 3.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases stood at 3,696,264 since the pandemic started in March 2020. Active cases were placed at 4,529.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David earlier projected that Metro Manila could see a peak in infections during the first two weeks of July.

He said Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila could reach 1,000 per day by the end of the month or early next month. (PNA)