DOH: Covid-19 surge by May ‘very possible’ if public continues to ignore protocols

·3 min read

ACTIVE coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases may increase by as many as 300,000 by the middle of May if compliance with the minimum public health standards (MPHS) continues to decline.

Based on the projections of the Department of Health (DOH), active Covid-19 cases may see a new wave if health protocols continue to be disregarded by the public.

“A 30-percent decrease in MPHS compliance might bring the cases up further to as high as 300,000 over the same time period,” the DOH said in a statement.

“This figure is higher than the largest recorded number of active cases of 291,618 during the peak of the Omicron wave in January 2022,” it added.

Active Covid-19 cases in the country were at 24,179, as of April 14. The DOH said the current active Covid-19 cases were brought about by Filipinos practicing MPHS less.

The compliance to MPHS such as social distancing and proper wearing of face masks reportedly declined by seven percent nationwide in March and April, according to the sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics (sTWG DA) and the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) Team.

DOH also cited disease models that showed a 20-percent decrease in MPHS compliance nationwide could result in 34,788 active cases in mid-May, 564 of which would be severe while 267 would be critical.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said such a scenario is not yet guaranteed as it will largely depend on the people’s adherence to the safety protocols.

“At this point, these are all still projections. We can still avert these estimates in favor of better scenarios,” said Vergeire.

She said active cases may drop and plateau to 16,934 by mid-May if Filipinos are to strictly observe MPHS.

“The analysts observed that the number of active cases nationwide could decrease and then plateau to just around 1,293 to 16,934 in mid-May,” said Vergeire.

The independent Octa Research earlier said the country is already due for a surge based on the previous trend seen in Covid-19 cases, wherein a surge happens around every three months in the Philippines, with its last one taking place in January.

The World Health Organization Philippines also noted how a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country is quite likely due to the observance of the Holy Week and the conduct of numerous election-related activities as potential causes of a surge.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, chief pathologist of the DOH in Central Visayas, said a spike in Covid-19 cases by middle of May is “very possible.”

“Borders are open already and there are still areas where vaccination coverage needs ramping up. With so many people attending gatherings for their candidates that makes physical distancing a difficult protocol to follow, and the complacency on the proper use of the face masks, it is not far-fetched to have this surge of cases from happening,” said Loreche.

The chief pathologist earlier appealed to politicians to ensure that venues of their campaign activities are open or well-ventilated, especially when they expect to gather large crowds.

She said politicians should promote compliance with public health measures that will help prevent the spread of the virus by properly using face masks since physical distancing is unlikely.

Loreche also urged voters to evaluate if their chosen candidates have religiously followed the minimum health protocols set by the government, particularly the Commission on Elections (Comelec), amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

She made the statement after learning that several local and national candidates in the May 9 elections have violated the health protocols, particularly the wearing of face masks.

Comelec Cebu Provincial Election supervisor Jerome Brillantes earlier admitted that many candidates violated the minimum health protocols such as social distancing. Shaking hands and taking of selfies are not allowed by the Comelec, but there were candidates who violated these rules.

Brillantes has encouraged concerned citizens to file cases against erring candidates before the Comelec and bring with them sufficient evidence for investigation. (SunStar Philippines / MKG)

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