MANILA – Filipinos should learn to live with the coronavirus disease 2019 and transition to a new normal as the eradication of the virus is not feasible, a health official said Wednesday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the public would have to rely on vaccines and continue to observe the health protocols to coexist with the virus while reducing the risk and protecting others.
"Tinuturuan po natin ang ating mga kababayan na (We're already teaching our countrymen that) we should live with this virus, they must protect themselves by receiving our vaccines and also doing and complying with our safety protocols like wearing face masks," she said. "Alam din po natin na pang matagalan po ang sakit na ito na hindi naman po talaga basta-basta mawawala (We also know that our battle against this disease [Covid-19] will take long and it won't disappear easily)."
She said the government would no longer impose strict lockdowns as it used to at the height of the pandemic to prevent coronavirus transmission, even as the cases rise.
Health experts said living with the virus is acknowledging that the eradication of SARS-CoV-2 is not feasible and would get to a point that it is incorporated into other common viruses.
Vergeire said about 63 more cases of three Omicron subvariants were logged in Western Visayas, National Capital Region, and among returning overseas Filipinos.
She added that it is expected that Filipinos will contract Covid-19 as cases are on the rise again due to mobility patterns, low vaccine uptick, especially for booster shots and compliance to minimum public health standards.
"Basta mild and moderate lang at saka asymptomatic, tayo po ay makakaagapay dito. Ang pinakaimportante sa atin ngayon ay ma-i-manage natin at ma-maintain natin ang ating mga ospital na hindi dumadami po ang mga nagkakasakit at naa-admit, ma-maintain po natin na mababa ang (As long as it's mild and moderate only and asymptomatic, we can survive this. What's important now is to manage and maintain our hospitals, that the cases admitted won't increase and we maintain low) severe and critical [cases]," she said.
As of June 28, DOH data show that more than half of the total hospital admissions are asymptomatic and mild cases of Covid-19 while the severe and critical cases comprise at least 10.68 percent or 591 cases only -- lower than the 20 percent logged in January.
Amid an uptick in Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Maj. Gen. Felipe Natividad reiterated his call to the public to strictly observe existing Covid-19 health protocols and guidelines to prevent another surge.
This came as the NCRPO nabbed 1,920 persons and fined 409 others for violation of minimum health protocols.
This reflects a trend of disregard for existing policies despite the pandemic lasting for over two years now, Natividad said.
"We should have learned to live with this virus by now. These policies were in place to ensure that our communities are safe and our citizenry especially the children and the elderly are protected. I urge everyone to re-instill your commitment and strengthen our unity against this deadly disease," he said in a statement.
From June 20 to June 26, the country has recorded a total of 4,364 new cases or an average of 662 cases daily, a 53 percent increase from the case figure from June 13 to 19.
Around 591 of these cases were categorized as severe and resulted in a 14.9 percent intensive care unit bed utilization rate and 18.1 percent non-ICU bed utilization rate.
"Let's keep ourselves and our families reminded of our obligation to continuously observe minimum health and safety standards in place to protect us against this disease. To those who remain unvaccinated, the time is not yet up. Get vaccinated and boosted while there is enough time," Natividad said. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)