Half of the country’s provinces and cities have been reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.
In a briefing Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there has also been a rise in COVID-19 related deaths.
“Severe and critical cases are rising... We need to focus on our vulnerable population so that we can stop the deaths in our country,” she said in Filipino.
Nationwide, the case fatality rate remains below 2 percent, Vergeire said.
She said while the department assumes there is community transmission of the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, there were also reports of several violations of public health protocols.
Later, in a report to President Rodrigo Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the impact of the Delta variant is “now observed nationally and in select regions and areas,” also pointing to the increase “in cases and/or health care utilization.”
The government should also consider “implementing higher CQ (community quarantine) as a preemptive measure to contain Delta VOC (variant of concern) spread,” Duque said in a presentation slide.
Several hospitals in Metro Manila are now on high alert amid the local transmission of the Delta variant, according to treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega.
In a 24 Oras TV report, Vega said the One Hospital Command has been receiving over 200 calls per day due to COVID-19 --- over double its previous 90 to 100 calls daily.
Metro Manila registered an average of 1,394 new COVID-19 cases daily from July 26 to August 1, “a 46% increase from the previous week” during which 953 new infections were recorded each day, the OCTA Research group said Monday.
The National Capital Region also posted an average daily attack rate (ADAR) of 9.98 cases per 100,000 population, 46% hospital bed utilization rate, 51% intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rate, and 10% positivity rate.
Meanwhile, as part of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that will be imposed on Aug. 6, Metro Manila will impose a curfew from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos said all Metro Manila mayors agreed to the extended curfew. Each local government unit, however, will decide on whether or not to impose a liquor ban as well, he said.
The mayors also agreed to require again the use of quarantine pass while the National Capital Region is under enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Monday.
“They decided to implement again the use of quarantine passes for smoother flow of people who need to buy essentials such as food and medicine,” DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said.
Metro Manila is currently under a general community quarantine “subject to heightened and additional restrictions” until Aug. 5.
COVID-19 cases in the country could exceed 30,000 daily without strict lockdown measures under an ECQ, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Monday.
“If we do not do the ECQ, we might see cases going beyond 30,000 per day. So ECQ is important to keep it at the lower limit,” Nograles, co-chairman of the inter-agency task force against COVID-19, told ANC’s Headstart.
The lower limit the government is looking at is 18,000 per day, and Nograles said the “bigger majority” of this number would hopefully not need hospitalization.
He said the government also wants to delay having the Delta variant as the predominant type of coronavirus until vaccination among vulnerable sectors such as the senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities is also ramped up.
Also on Monday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said authorized persons outside of residence or APORs need not be vaccinated to pass through the National Capital Region and nearby provinces during heightened restrictions under general community quarantine and during the ECQ.
Guevarra, a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said they have taken the position that there will be no distinction between APORs who have been vaccinated and those who have not.
Vergeire urged people to avoid mass gatherings and congregations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which could overwhelm hospitals.
She said the presence of the Delta variant, which is 60 to 100 percent more transmissible than the original COVID-19 strain, is contributing to the spike in cases.
She warned that the Delta variant can be passed on “in just a matter of seconds” because Delta variant carriers have 1,000 times more viral load than other COVID-19 patients.
The DOH has been increasing bed capacity and funds in hospitals to help them care for new COVID-9 patients, she said.
“We are more prepared now. We have weapons now... We have vaccines,” she said. “We are more capable now, but we need each and everyone’s help.”
Meanwhile, the Palace said that the proposal of the local government of Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu to impose a “no vaccine, no entry” policy in supermarkets was not timely as there were still many people who have yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said other countries that have vaccinated a large part of their population can follow such a policy but said Filipinos should wait until at least 50 percent of the population is inoculated.
The country logged 8,167 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the nationwide tally of cases to 1,605,762.
The death toll reached 28,093 after 77 more patients died of COVID-19.
The recovery count also climbed to 1,515,054 with 9,095 new recoveries.
The DOH said mild and asymptomatic cases make up almost 95.2 percent of all infections.
The Philippines has recorded 17 active cases of the Delta variant as of Aug. 2.
Fifteen of the cases are local, while the other two are returning overseas Filipino workers.
Out of the 216 Delta variant cases logged, 190 had recovered and nine died.
Coronavirus cases in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the country’s biggest COVID-19 referral center, have consistently gone up during the past week, a hospital spokesman said Monday.
The PGH as of Sunday had 143 COVID-19 patients out of its 250 beds, said Dr. Jonas del Rosario.
“It has continued to climb since last week. For the last 10 days, our admissions have been consistently increasing,” Del Rosario said in Filipino on ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
Del Rosario said some of its health care workers who contracted mild to moderate COVID-19 illness were also admitted, as he noted that the majority of the hospital’s staff were fully vaccinated.
“Most are mild symptoms. There were two who were admitted, but they suffered from moderate illness and have since recovered,” he said.
The referral center assumes all of its virus cases are Delta variants and have raised the level of personal protective equipment, he said.
In Cebu City, hospitals are full, and cemeteries cannot accommodate more burials, an official said Monday following a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city.
Wakes, interment and funerals, and burial must be held within three days of a person’s death under the modified ECQ, said Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, citing Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19 guidelines.
“All of our cemeteries in the city proper are getting full but in the rural area, we still have two cemeteries that can still be used,” he said.
Those who die that cannot afford cremation, especially those positive for COVID-19, will have to be buried within 24 hours, he said.
Tumulak said ambulances were circling hospitals as they waited for patients to get triaged and admitted.
The city on Sunday logged 415 new cases, bringing its total active infections to 2,700.
Meanwhile, about 95 percent of COVID-19 beds at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) are already occupied, its liaison officer said Monday.
Dr. Bernard Julius Rocha said while the situation in the hospital remains manageable, more patients are waiting at the emergency room.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded a total of 30,639 COVID-19 cases on Monday after 130 new infections were reported.
In an update, the PNP said 1,273 are still active cases while 29,282 have already recovered from the disease.
The death toll due to COVID-19 among the police stood at 84.