File photo of health secretary Francisco Duque III with undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Health authorities again cautioned the public against complacency amidst an apparent surge in Covid-19 cases and despite the upcoming roll out of vaccines in the middle of next month.
Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire urged the citizenry not to make personal conclusions at this time because even though the increase in infections have somehow slowed down, the country is still not out of the health crisis as there are reports of new transmissions and deaths being recorded daily.
Vergeire disclosed that cases had been rising in the past four days compared with the seven-day moving average during the holiday season, but this might have something to do with a 30 percent decrease in laboratory outputs during that time.
“It is only now that the functions of the laboratories are normalizing and this might have some effect on the number of reported cases. We want to look (at the numbers) for another week so that we can have a more accurate conclusion on the trends of cases here,” she said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
On Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had revealed that that the rise in coronavirus infections to more than 1,900 in the last three weeks indicated a holiday surge.
Earlier, however, Health secretary Francisco Duque III stated that it would not be until mid-January that the Department of Health (DoH) could tell if the Christmas and New Year celebrations had led to more coronavirus transmission or the recent Feast of the Black Nazarene, which has been tagged as a potential ‘superspreader’ of the disease, had contributed to the increase in Covid-19 cases.
Vergeire explained the delay in details of the monitoring of infections and transmissions, saying that the novel coronavirus or nCoV that causes Covid-19 has an incubation period of 14 days so it would take time to determine the developments.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) Philippine representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe noted that the lack of physical distancing during the holiday season and the Feast of the Black Nazarene could have given rise to the infection of more people.
“This kind of close contact will give rise for further transmission of the virus, for further infection of more people. So, it is inevitable that the Philippines is going to see an increase of cases,” Abeyasinghe pointed out.
WHO continues to advocate for the early identification of cases and contact tracing to prevent the further transmission of the virus.
The DOH logged 1,524 additional coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the overall number of confirmed Covid-19 cases to 491,258. (AI/MTVN)