The COVID-19 situation in the country already “seems contained” but it is “capable of springing surprises,” outgoing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Wednesday.
“So far, given our measures, our interventions, mukhang contained na siya (it seems contained),” Duque said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay when asked about President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that his administration was able to contain the virus in a short period of time.
“And the data will support that claim,” the Health chief added.
However, Duque said it is still not the time to be complacent.
“At the same time, we are realistic to accept the fact that this virus is notorious for mutations,” he said. “It is capable of springing surprises at every turn.”
“And so, we have to be realistic, we have to temper our expectations.
What is more important is the realization that the virus is here to stay,” Duque added.
Meanwhile, the OCTA Research group advised the incoming administration to keep its pandemic response centralized, like the current system implemented by the Duterte administration.
“The One Health Command system is a good measure to be kept, one where there is a centralized response. Although the pandemic is slowing down, the virus is still there,” OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said in a Laging Handa briefing.
He also said President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. must focus on improving the country’s contact tracing.
Meanwhile, Duque expressed hope the incoming administration will carefully study COVID-19 trends if they have any plans of lifting the state of calamity in the country.
The current state of calamity is set to expire in September.
“I hope that the new president will assess the situation if there is any plan to lift it,” he said.
“I hope they will really take time to study and to look at the metrics and look at what new information and science offer in terms of the evolving variants of concern,” Duque said.
The DOH said on Tuesday the Philippines remains at low risk for COVID-19 despite the slight increase in the number of cases in the past two weeks.
As of June 7, the DOH has logged 3,691,892 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, of which 2,437 remain active.
The death toll is at 60,456.
Months after the first local Covid-19 case was reported, the Duterte administration established the One Hospital Command Center, the main task of which is to ensure efficient health facility referral.
For David, the current administration managed its pandemic response “well”, including the vaccination of the population.
He said the vaccine and booster rollout proved to be effective in minimizing the need to impose lockdowns in times of a surge.
“This proved to be a great help in the pandemic response, which is why last January we did not resort to lockdowns. We want that kind of management where we would no longer require the strictest restriction since we’re already vaccinated,” he said.
Metro Manila is at “low risk” classification, but David reported a slight uptick in its COVID-19 cases from an average of 79 per day in the past week to 90 at present.
The same goes for Regions 4-A (Calabarzon), Western Visayas, and some
areas in Central Luzon where COVID-19 infections are also seeing an
increase, he said.
To prevent further rise in cases, David said the public must do its
part and follow minimum public health standards as well as get