Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has urged local government units (LGUs) to intensify their campaign against COVID-19 in the midst of rising cases in Metro Manila and other regions in the country.
In his report to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, Duque said recent data shows spiking number of COVID-19 infections, which, if not contained, will reach the first surge experienced by the country in July to September last year.
“So kinakailangan ho talaga mahinto itong mga kasong ito. At kung hindi po ay baka lumagpas pa tayo, mas mataas pa doon sa ating July, August peak of COVID cases,” Duque said.
“Kaya hinihikayat po natin ang lahat ng mga local government units na talagang paigtingin po nila ang lahat po ng mga gawain, ang kanila pong preventive interventions, ang kanila pong early detection by way of aggressive case finding — active case finding.”
Infected individuals should be identified in the community through the help of barangay health emergency response teams so that they can be isolated from the general population.
Testing and aggressive contact tracing must also be done to know individuals who may have close contact with infected persons to contain the spread of the virus, he added.
COVID-19 cases have been rising in Metro Manila as well as in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) where the more contagious UK variant of the virus was detected, the health chief said.
It remains unknown, however, if the presence of the UK variant is a factor that has influenced the increase in the number of cases in the NCR and CAR or it was coincidental finding or a combination of possible factors.
“So ang tingin po namin, ang mga sumusunod na mga kadahilanan na tumaas po ang mga kaso: Number one, increased mobility dahil po nagluwag tayo ng ating mga quarantine restrictions,” he explained.
“Pangalawa, binuksan po natin ang mga malaking bahagi ng ating ekonomiya. At dahil po rito, ang mobility tumaas; ang transmission rate, tumaas; ang contact rate, tumaas. Kaya ito po ang mga kadahilanan na kung bakit sumipa po ang ating mga kaso sa NCR and CAR and also in the other regions.”
Despite the increasing number of cases, Duque said the UK and the South African variants just comprised a small number of cases.
The Hong Kong lineage represented 24 percent of all the samples sequenced, based on recent genome sequencing.
Duque warned, however, that the UK variant or B.1.1.7 is still a variant of concern because despite the small percentage of infection, the variant is causing continuous spike in cases in the NCR and CAR.
The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 5,404 new coronavirus disease cases on Monday, March 15, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 626,893 with 560,577 recoveries and 12, 837 deaths. PND