MALASIQUI, Pangasinan – The Department of Health Center for Health Development in the Ilocos Region (DOH-CHD-1) on Wednesday urged the public to continue following minimum health protocols even if the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is no longer considered a global pandemic due to a minimal increase in the positivity rate in the region.

At a virtual press conference by the Philippine Information Agency Ilocos Regional Office, DOH-CHD-1 medical officer Dr. Rheuel Bobis said as of May 9, the positivity rate in the region increased to 12.8 percent, higher than the 5 percent standard.

“There are 271 active cases in the region as of May 9. Of the total number, 79 are in Pangasinan, 41 in Dagupan City (chartered city of Pangasinan), 99 in La Union, 34 in Ilocos Sur, and 18 in Ilocos Norte,” he said.

Bobis said immediate action is needed to lower the positivity rate to the standard 5 percent from the present 12.8 percent.

He reiterated the importance of booster shots to increase protection against Covid-19 and implementing minimum public health standards.

“Ang pagsusuot ng mask bagamat hindi na mandatory ay recommended pa rin lalo na sa mga vulnerable sector gaya ng senior at mga may karamdaman lalo na sa matataong lugar (The wearing of facemask, although no longer mandatory, is recommended especially for the vulnerable sector like the elderly and those with comorbodities),” he said.

He added that they are still recommending physical distancing and the isolation of individuals experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, aside from wearing facemasks and getting booster shots of the vaccine.

“Bagamat hindi na global pandemic ay nananatili tayo sa public health emergency kaya sumunod sa minimum public health standard (Although we are no longer under a global pandemic, we remain under a public health emergency so we need to abide by the minimum public health standard),” Bobis said.

Meanwhile, despite the increase in the number of detected cases, which is 82 percent higher than in the last weeks, Bobis clarified the latest figure did not affect the utilization rate of the hospitals or healthcare facilities.

Non-intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate was at nine percent and ICU bed utilization was at 16 percent as of May 8.

“Most cases are asymptomatic to mild cases. Severe and critical cases are seldom. This is a testament to the effectiveness of the vaccines,” he said.

Around 3.8 million residents in the region have already been fully vaccinated against the disease, with 1.5 million already getting the first booster shot.

Meanwhile, 453,601 or 90 percent of the target population of senior citizens or elderly have so far been inoculated. (PNA)