COVID-19 cases in Mindanao have accounted for 25 percent of all new infections in the last week, the Department of Health said Sunday, as it raised the alarm over the continuing spike in areas outside Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Mindanao has already outpaced the National Capital Region in terms of recent infections.
“The burden of new cases has already shifted to other places,” she said in Filipino in an interview with ABS-CBN News. “Aside from Mindanao, we are also seeing rising cases in some parts of the Visayas region, also in some parts of Northern Luzon. This is what we see and there are a multitude of factors why the cases are rising.”
Vergeire said last week's daily moving average was at 6,691, higher than the over 5,200 recorded in the past two weeks.
The Philippines' active cases on Friday was nearly at a month-long high at over 60,000.
Last week, the DOH said COVID-19 cases were plateauing, citing the decline of infections in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan (NCR Plus) but noting a rise in cases outside these virus hotspots.
Vergeire attributed the development to increased mobility, presence of COVID-19 variants, non-compliance with health protocols, and failure to immediately detect, isolate, and treat virus patients.
ABS-CBN news said Calabarzon led the country's regions with the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday with 1,169.
It was followed by Metro Manila (1,118), Central Luzon (703), Western Visayas (695), and Northern Mindanao (539).
The continuing spike in fresh COVID-19 cases in Mindanao has already overwhelmed some medical facilities there, with intensive care unit (ICU) bed allocations already at near or full occupancy.
Davao City was also recently placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
On the other hand, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said surges in virus cases in various parts of the country were “manageable.”
“It's manageable, but we really need to enforce minimum health standards,” he said in Filipino. “We observed that once there is a drop in the level of compliance in local government units, that's when cases rise.”
The Philippines logged 7,228 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the total to 1,269,478, as three laboratories were not able to submit their data on time, the DOH said.
There were 166 new fatalities, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 21,898.
The DOH also reported 7,372 persons recently recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 1,188,243.
This left 59,337 active cases, of which 93.5 were mild, 2.4 percent were asymptomatic, 1.3 percent were critical, 1.7 percent were severe, and 1.15 percent were moderate.
The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 58 percent of the ICU beds, 48 percent of the isolation beds, 49 percent of the ward beds, and 38 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 51 percent of the ICU beds, 40 percent of the isolation beds, 36 percent of the ward beds, and 34 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
In other developments:
• The Quezon City government has initiated a probe into the culpability of a village executive and a homeowners’ association president in Barangay Old Balara for failing to report a public gathering and a drinking session that led to the spread of COVID-19 to 72 residents. Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered the city legal department to investigate barangay chairperson Allan Franza and president Don Brabante as well as all of those involved in the super-spreader event.
“I have been noticing that such kind of incidents are becoming rampant,” Belmonte said. “The spread could've been prevented but we see that some people, including persons in authority, have started to become lax in the enforcement and practice of minimum health protocols.”
• The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) urged the government and the public on Sunday not to rush to relax health and safety protocols, pointing out that the vaccination rate in the country is still low.
“Please do not be in a hurry. Be patient. Some people think once they are vaccinated [against COVID-19], it is okay [to relax health and safety protocols],” said PCP president Dr. Maricar Limpin, in an interview with Dobol B TV. Limpin said the vaccination rate in the country has not even reached 10 percent yet.