MANILA, Philippines -–The Department of Health (DOH) said that a rise in COVID-19 cases in the country is not far-fetched if the public does not comply with minimum health protocols during the Holy Week break and in campaign rallies, especially in areas with a low vaccination rate.
“Because of all the activities happening, the campaign sorties, we have the Holy Week, we continue to remind our countrymen because the possibility of having another increase or rise in numbers is not a distant possibility, it can happen if we continue to have these activities but we don’t have compliance to our safety protocols, especially in areas where vaccination rate is low,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino on Monday night, April 11, in her report to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte had asked what caused the surge in COVID-19 cases in other countries. Vergeire said it was due to a sublineage of the Omicron variant that caused the drastic uptick in Philippine cases in January.
“Omicron has two to three sublineages. It means it’s like the child of the variant, and here in our country we already had the BA.2 sublineage, it became predominant from January to March and it’s what’s spreading in other countries. So our experts are telling us, we are blessed because we were able to overcome BA.2,” said Vergeire in mix language.
Vergeire explained the rise in cases also had something to do with other countries’ relaxation of protocols as well as vaccination hesitancy among segments of their population.
“Other countries like Hong Kong are having a hard time, because many of their older people are not vaccinated so their health care system was overwhelmed. In the UK, they had sudden removal of restrictions like mask mandates so there was a sudden rise in ailments,” said Vergeire.
Duterte said mask mandates in the Philippines will not be removed.
“There is no way that masks will not be required, it will be a part of protocol until the last day of my office,” said Duterte in his Talk to the People.
Duterte said he will send caccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) which has posted one of the lowest vaccination rates in the countr, at only 27%. – Rappler.com