COVID-19 Cases Decreasing? DOH Admits Lower Figures ‘Artificial’; Phl Situation A Cause For Concern –WHO
The Department of Heath said many testing laboratories did not operate during the Holy Week.
The Department of Health (DOH) has admitted that the lower tallies of new COVID-19 cases in the past days were only “artificial” and a result of the Lenten break.
In an interview with “The Chiefs” on One News / TV5 on Tuesday night, April 6, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained many testing laboratories did not operate during the Holy Week, causing a decline in the daily tally.
“We saw that the number of cases was below 10,000…But this is artificial,” Vergeire said.
Early last week, Vergeire urged laboratories not to suspend operations due to the rising cases of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, April 7, the DOH reported there were 6,414 new cases of COVID-19 bringing the total number to 819, 164.
There were 158,701 active cases, representing 194 percent of the overall cases.
On Tuesday, the DOH recorded 9,373 additional cases, and 8,355 on Monday, April 5.
The country observed the Holy Week from March 29 to April 4. The National Capital Region, Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna and Rizal or NCR Plus have been placed under enhanced community quarantine due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, April 7, Vergeire said the DOH is considering the inclusion of saliva-based test results in the daily tally of COVID-19 cases, just like the results of rapid antigen tests.
This is because the country is ramping up the testing capacity for COVID-19.
"Saliva testing is RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) also. So if you get a negative result, that's negative. If you are positive, then you are really positive," she noted.
Vergeire said saliva test is official since the specimen was processed through RT-PCR.
Cause for concern
As this developed, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the surge in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, saying its healthcare capacity is "moving towards the red line.”
“We are concerned because the surge is really continuing and moving towards on the so-called red line – the number of cases exceeds the capacity of healthcare,” WHO regional director for Western Pacific Region Takeshi Kasai pointed out in an a press briefing.
Kasai warned that once the red line is crossed, “we put healthcare workers in a very difficult situation.”
“Once the healthcare workers start to get infection, the healthcare capacity goes down and ironically, that is the time more and more people need some help – there is a consequence. It is very important to avoid causing this red line,” he underscored.
He also said they are also concerned that there are now people who are already “having a difficult time” due to loss of employment. Aside from this, there are also students who are not able to go to school now.
According to Kasai, there are “multiple factors” that may be contributing to the surge in cases, which is being experienced not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well.
These include the presence of the new variants of COVID-19, lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions, and increased mobility or gathering of people.
He reiterated WHO’s call for every individual to keep practicing the minimum preventive measures such as washing hands, wearing mask and physical distancing.
“This is a virus transmitted from human to human,” Kasai said, adding a person who is having COVID-19 symptoms should seek guidance from local authorities for proper management.
World Health Organization representative in the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe also said in a press briefing on Monday that the optimism on the arrival and gradual rollout of vaccines might have caused people to relax and forget about minimum health and safety protocols.
Since the increase in cases is happening not just in the Philippines, Abeyasinghe said the current problems could not be blamed on incompetence in dealing with the pandemic.