DOH says strategies vs pandemic ‘working’ as COVID-19 transmission rate stays below 1

Bonz Magsambol
'Sinasabi nga ng WHO and other reputable international organizations na kapag less than one ang transmission rate mo, nandun ka sa tamang direksyon,' says Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Monday, September 7, that the Philippines’ pandemic response strategies are “working” as the transmission rate stays below one and critical care utilization of cases is now at 50% for the whole country.

In a virtual press briefing on Monday, Vergeire said that the country’s transmission rate or the number of people that one positive case can infect is currently at 0.977. It first dipped below one on August 22, when the DOH reported a 0.86 transmission rate.

“It is less than one already. And sinasabi nga ng WHO (World Health Organization) and other reputable international organizations na kapag less than one ang transmission rate mo, nandun ka sa tamang direksyon (The WHO and other reputable organizations said that when your transmission rate is less than one, you’re already in the right direction),” Vergeire said.

In terms of critical utilization rate, coronavirus epicenter Metro Manila’s hospital bed occupancy has gone down to 66% from 80%, the critical utilization rate before the capital region was placed under stricter modified enhanced community quarantine from August 4 to 18, Vergeire said.

“So we can say na ‘yun pong mga ginagawa nating strategies are working (So we can say that our strategies are working). Although it is not immediate, nakikita natin na nagbabago po at nagdedecongest po natin somehow ang ating mga ospital (we are seeing the changes and we were able to somehow decongest hospitals),” she added.

According to Vergeire, COVID-19 case doubling time nationwide is at 10.3 days, which means that the number of new cases are doubling every 10 days.

Vergeire, however, noted the observation of experts that the case doubling time is “not that sensitive anymore” because of the community transmission in specific areas of the country.

She said that the country’s mortality doubling time is at 14.9 days, meaning that new deaths double in number every 15 days.

Guido David, an expert from the Octa Research Group of the University of the Philippines, said in an interview with Rappler on Sunday, September 6, that Metro Manila has already flattened the pandemic curve. (READ: COVID-19 curve for Metro Manila has flattened, but don’t be complacent – UP expert)

David, however, noted in a mix of English and Filipino: “It doesn’t mean that we don’t have any more cases. The virus is still here, the pandemic is still here. It just means that the number of cases is decreasing.”

During Monday’s briefing, Vergeire said that “nothing is certain at this point” as the health department continues to monitor the pandemic situation.

As of Monday, the Philippines still has the highest number of COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia at 238,727 cases, despite having the longest lockdowns in the world. –

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.