Public advisories should still be issued even after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 no longer constitutes a global health emergency, the independent monitoring group OCTA Research on Saturday said.
“We should still be giving advisories to our countrymen,” OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said in an interview on dzBB.
The WHO issued the declaration on Friday, with its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, saying the pandemic had killed “at least 20 million” people – nearly three times the under seven million deaths officially recorded.
“COVID is still here and it is up to individual countries to manage the pandemic. It’s maybe not a pandemic anymore because there is no more state of emergency, but the management of disease [has to continue],” David said.
He said while the COVID situation now is not the same as it was when it started, it does not mean it should no longer be given attention.
“We have to wait for the official announcement of the WHO that COVID-19 is already endemic. That should be the messaging. It is no longer the emergency it once was. The disease is more or less manageable,” he said.
“The state of emergency is no longer there, but the virus remains,” David added.
David said despite the increase in cases, the number of infections reported by the Department of Health may not represent the whole picture.
“Antigen tests are not being reported in the database. Less people are getting tested. We estimate the true number of infections is 10 to 20 times higher,” he said.
The DOH and the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases said they will meet to discuss and reassess policies and other guidelines following the WHO proclamation.
“The DOH will convene the members of the IATF-EID to discuss and reassess policies and other guidelines affected by the declaration,” the statement read.
The DOH has logged 4,092,158 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 66,444 deaths nationwide since Jan. 3, 2020. More than 78.4 million have been fully vaccinated as of March 20, 2023.
Meanwhile, more than 23.8 million have received their first booster dose and almost 4.4 million got their second booster shot.
The UN health agency first declared the so-called public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) over the crisis on January 30, 2020.
That was just weeks after the mysterious new viral disease was first detected in China and when fewer than 100 cases and no deaths had been reported outside that country.