‘Slight increase’ in Covid-19 cases felt in Alert Level 1 areas, says Duque

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THE Department of Health (DOH) has recorded a slight increase in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in 14 areas that have been placed under Alert Level 1, the lowest quarantine classification in the country.

In his report during President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People Address Monday, April 18, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III reiterated the government’s call for the public to follow the minimum public health standards and for local government units to enforce it to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

“So bilang po sa pagbubuod, Mr. President, nakakakita na naman tayo nang dahan-dahan na bahagyang pagtaas ng mga kaso sa 14 na mga lugar under Alert Level 1 areas at binibigyan po natin nang paulit-ulit na paalala,” he said.

(In summary, Mr. President, we are seeing a slight increase in Covid-19 cases in 14 areas under Alert Level 1 and we have been reminding them of the guidelines and protocols.)

Duque’s report came after the observance of Holy Week (April 10-17) and amid the campaign period for the 2022 national and local elections, with events that resulted in mass gatherings.

In a separate press conference, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the 14 areas where a slight increase in Covid-19 cases has been observed are in Calabarzon, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Davao Region, Eastern Visayas, Caraga and Cordillera.

She clarified, however, that the increase in cases in these areas is not significant and did not affect their healthcare utilization.

From April 12 to 18, the DOH recorded a total of 1,571 new Covid-19 cases or 224 daily average cases, lower than the 271 daily average cases in the previous week.

Duque said the top three regions with the most new cases during the said period were the National Capital Region (NCR) with 606 cases, Calabarzon with 226 and Central Luzon with 181.

The three major contributor areas were Cavite with 101, Manila with 92 and Quezon City with 82.

Duque said the country’s cumulative fatality rate remains low at 1.63 percent while the recovery rate is at 97.83 percent.

He said there are currently a total of 5,793 Covid-19 patients admitted in hospitals, in which 664 or 11.5 percent were severe or critical.

Duque has again called on the public to get vaccinated and get booster shots against Covid-19 to ensure their protection against severe or critical infection and death.

In Cebu City, local officials are now preparing for a possible surge of new Covid-19 cases due to the series of mass political gatherings that have taken place in the city.

Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center, said on Tuesday that the city’s existing health facilities and personnel are ready to respond if a surge of cases would occur.

The World Health Organization has already issued a warning of a possible surge of cases due to election activities and easing of restrictions as the country’s economy opens up.

“We already factored that in. We are here to make a necessary response in any eventualities, it is already a muscle memory,” Garganera said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

He made mention of the matter following the UniTeam Grand Rally at the South Road Properties on Monday, April 18, which he described as a superspreader event.

The Cebu City Police Office estimated that around 300,000 people attended the event at the South Road Properties.

Garganera said all gatherings have potential for transmission of the virus.

“One thing ani, in an open area, outdoors, and then people are wearing masks, that in itself is protection,” said Garganera.

In anticipation of more gatherings that will happen, Garganera reminds the public to follow the minimum health protocols and have themselves vaccinated against the virus. (IRT, TPM / SunStar Philippines)

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