D.O.H. won’t rush to say Covid ‘now contained’


THE Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday clarified it will not rush to declare that the Philippines has contained or controlled Covid-19 despite the agency’s data showing a further decline in the average daily cases in the recent week while the nationwide risk classification remains low—with a negative 49 percent two-week growth rate in the recent weeks.

“We are not going to declare this soon, we are just coordinating with WHO on the process and the determinants of disease control or containment,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said when asked for comment following an interview where Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said they will seek guidance from WHO “if we can declare that the Covid-19 pandemic in the Philippines has been controlled and contained.”

On Thursday, the DOH logged 975 additional Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 2,829,618. There were also 1,029 recoveries and 193 deaths.

In an interview on Wednesday, Duque said, “for two weeks, we hope to have a positivity rate lower than 5 percent” and then added he will ask for guidance from WHO.

DOH data also showed that moderate average daily attack rate at 1.55 cases per 100,000 population.

Out of 121 provinces, highly-urbanized cities and independent component cities in the country, 89 percent are under Alert Level 2 with minimal to low-risk case classification, while the remaining are under Alert Level 3, and with 1 province at Alert Level 4.

PHL ranking

The DOH said that based on the information generated from ‘Our World in Data of the Oxford University’ as of November 22, 2021, the Philippines has lower confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths per 1 million population compared to some neighboring countries in Asean.

Moreover, data from the WHO, as of November 23, 2021, also showed the country ranked 65th in terms of countries with most number of active cases, 134th in terms of C-19 cases per million, 120th in terms of deaths per million, and 93rd in terms of case fatality rate.

These rankings, the DOH noted, have improved since the end of case peaks recorded in the country in September 2021.

“DOH had remained resolute and persistent, working diligently at both policy and operational levels anchored on the whole-of-government, whole-of-society, and whole-of-systems approach. Our agile decision-making is always data-driven and informed by best available evidence, and always centered on what is best for the safety and health of Filipinos,” Duque said.

Covid response

While no government has perfected its Covid-19 response, the DOH, together with other national government agencies and local government units, continued to adapt policies and implement measures based on case trends and projections, available resources, and evolving evidence, he said.

“Despite the limited health systems capacity, we were able to achieve better health outcomes because of the whole-of-nation approach. And as we continue to work towards realizing the vision of a Universal Health Care for all Filipinos, we would like to dedicate our wins against the pandemic to our health-care workers who have selflessly devoted their lives in providing both Covid and non-Covid-19 health care to Filipinos,” added Duque.

With the availability of vaccines as an added defense against the disease, the Philippines also bids to protect more of its population through vaccination.

The government is set to hold a three-day vaccination drive on November 29 to December 1.

The DOH asked the public to take to heart the bayanihan spirit and work together to reach the goal of 15 million individuals inoculated during the event.

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