The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday warned of a possible increase in severe and critical COVID-19 cases by August because of the waning immunity of the public.
In an interview with ANC, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the country’s severe and critical cases are currently stable and hospitals are not overwhelmed.
“There is this projection that maybe by… August, our hospitalizations will increase and there would be more severe and critical cases because of the waning immunity of the population,” Vergeire said.
The waning immunity is due to the slow uptake of booster shots, she said.
Vergeire stressed that maintaining a low number of severe and critical cases is what is important amid the observed increase in COVID-19 cases.
At present, 14.56 million individuals have received their first booster against COVID-19 while around 557,000 have been inoculated with the second dose.
Despite this, Vergeire said making the second booster shot available to the general population who wish to receive it is not the answer.
Vergeire said the waning immunity stems from the effect of the transmissible Omicron variant on the primary vaccine series.
“Therefore because of that, all of us who have received our primary series, the first and second dose, should receive the third booster shot,” she said.
Vergeire said only immunocompromised individuals, health workers, and senior citizens may avail of the second booster shot.
Meanwhile, Vergeire said the average number of new cases per day rose to 270 from 182 per day last week.
“But if you look at the numbers even in the different areas where increasing cases are happening, it’s not that big,” she said.
“Actually, our average daily attack rate has not gone over one or even two in the Philippines,” she said.
The Philippines logged 257 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the nationwide tally to 3,693,865, according to the latest data released by DOH.
The new infections brought the country’s active tally to 3,130, from 3,097 on Monday.
More patients recovered from the viral disease, bringing the recovery tally to 3,630,274.
The DOH said the country’s death toll stood at 60,461 with no new fatalities reported.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Wednesday the current situation does not merit raising the alert level status to 2.
“Our metrics to raise Alert Level 2 include the number of cases and our hospitalization rate. We still have a lot of metrics to look at,” he said.
The Palace said Wednesday Metro Manila will remain under Alert Level 1 until June 30, citing the decision by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Alert Level 1 will be implemented in the following highly urbanized cities (HUCs), independent component cities (ICCs):
• Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR): Abra, Apayao, Baguio City, Kalinga, and Mountain Province
• Region 1: Dagupan City, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan
• Region 2: Batanes, Cagayan, City of Santiago, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino
• Region 3: Angeles City, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Olongapo City, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales
• Region 4-A: Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Lucena City, and Rizal
• Region 4-B: Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa City, and Romblon
• Region 5: Albay, Catanduanes, Naga City, and Sorsogon
• Region 6: Aklan, Bacolod City, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Iloilo City
• Region 7: Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City (Opon), Mandaue City, and Siquijor
• Region 8: Biliran, Eastern Samar, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, and Tacloban City
• Region 9: Zamboanga City
• Region 10: Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City, Camiguin, Iligan City, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental
• Region 11: Davao City and Davao Oriental
• Region 12: South Cotabato
• Caraga: Butuan City, Surigao del Sur, and Agusan del Norte
• Bangsamoro Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Cotabato City
Also on Wednesday, the DOH said it has detected 16 more cases of the highly transmissible Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.2.12.1.
The number of new infections increases the total BA.5 and BA.2.12.1 cases nationwide to 11 and 39, respectively, the DOH said.
Six more BA.5 cases were found, of which two were from Metro Manila, and one each from Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, and Northern Mindanao, while the location of the remaining patient was still being verified, Vergeire said.
Four patients were fully vaccinated while the DOH was still looking into the status of the others, Vergeire said.
Five individuals have been tagged as recovered while one remains under home isolation, Vergeire also said.
Ten more cases of the BA.2.12.1, a sublineage of the dominant Omicron BA.2 variant, have been detected.
Four patients were from Metro Manila, 2 from Calabarzon, one each from Cagayan Valley, Bicol region, and Western Visayas, and one is a returning overseas Filipino, Vergeire said. With PNA