By Tracy Cabrera
A NUMBER of countries in the Asia-Pacific region are now battling growing or returning outbreaks of the coronavirus disease, with the infection counts in the Philippines and Indonesia continuing to rise throughout the pandemic, according to German market and consumer data company Statista.
Statista noted this observation in a recent analysis on the Covid-19 trend in the Asia-Pacific and while Thailand and South Korea have been successful in flattening the Covid-19 curve, “infection counts in Indonesia and the Philippines, on the other hand, have continued to grow throughout the pandemic.
It added though that the Philippines could, however, recently flatten the curve somewhat and now exhibit a cumulative case count that is once again lower than that of Indonesia.
According to the data company, Japan is the country most affected by the ‘second kamikaze (wind)’ of Covid-19 the region and is currently battling growing infection numbers. Singapore, meanwhile, which saw a major outbreak starting April, seems to have the situation under control for now.
Earlier, government had been warned about the possible spike in the number of cases of Covid-19 due to the easing of restrictions and health safety protocols, but authorities have apparently turned a blind eye on the issue and will continue to reopen the economy despite health experts saying that response to the pandemic should be prioritized over economic concerns.
Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines-based research group OCTA, Metro Manila may see an increase in cases due to the easing of restrictions on public transportation and other protocols.
This observation was seconded by no less than health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire who pointed out that the Department of Health (DoH) has always been saying that increases are to be expected with the reopening of certain sectors of society and the economy.
Prior to OCTA’s pronouncements, DoH had reiterated that while Covid-19 cases may rise as the country’s economy slowly reopens, spikes in the number of new infections could be prevented if the public would do its part in observing the health measures put in place to control the spread of the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
But without a vaccine, the virus is expected to stay for long, the group noted, and in experiencing the adverse impact of the health crisis, the country cannot remain in lockdown forever.
In doing that, Vergeire said that government expects everyone to “change their behavior and comply with the minimum health standards,” such as wearing masks, frequent hand-washing, practicing cough etiquette, and observing physical distancing.
OCTA, however, disclosed that the protocols have yet to be strictly implemented and the citizenry has to comply with the minimum health standards.
The group of researchers warned that the steady increase in the use of public transportation in Metro Manila might “trigger an increase in new Covid-19 cases in the next two weeks.”
Earlier, the Department of Transportation eased physical distancing measures on trains by implementing the one-seat-apart rule to help increase passenger capacity.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) also allowed more jeepneys to ply their routes while easing up on the prescribed distance between passengers.
Motorcycle taxis have likewise been allowed to return to the streets to provide commuters another transport option.
DoH said that although data shows Metro Manila still accounts for most of the new Covid cases each week, it has seen a steady decline in new infections over the last three weeks.
Between Oct. 4 and 10, Metro Manila recorded 6,218 new cases. New infections dropped to 5,605 from Oct. 11 to 17 to 3,950 from Oct. 18 to 24.
But in a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), it said that though the Philippines has seen its new cases decrease, it still accounted for around “50 percent of the total number of cases and 75 percent of the total number of deaths reported in the (Western Pacific) region in the last seven days.” (ia)