DOH, experts warn vs post-holiday surge: ‘Daily COVID-19 cases likely return to 4,000’

IMAGE | Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire/Screengrab, DOH media forum
IMAGE | Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire/Screengrab, DOH media forum

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) and experts have admitted that COVID-19 cases are likely to resurface in the Philippines by 2021.

Based on the initial projection of the OCTA Research Team and experts of FASSSTER (Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler), there is a high chance of a “surge” or kick in the number of coronavirus cases in late January.

This is if the rules for celebrating Christmas and New Year during the pandemic period are not strictly and correctly enforced.

“Cases in NCR may reach upwards of 4,000 per day which may overwhelm our health system capacity to upwards of 80% utilization by the end of January if we do not act aggressively to halt transmission now,” according to the DOH.

Explanation by Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire, the agency observed that COVID-19 cases continue to rise in various areas. It is said to be a sign of the beginning of the “surge” in the number of cases.

IMAGE | DOH presentation
IMAGE | DOH presentation

The DOH has seen a slowdown in the “decreasing trend,” or declining number of new victims of the disease.

“It’s not a surge yet, pero nakikita natin na ang mga kaso ay tumataas sa ibang bahagi ng bansa. Mayroon ng areas na nag-plateau ang kanilang pagbaba ng kaso. Ito ay something that would be risky dahil maaaring tumaas,” Vergeire said in a media forum.

HOSPITAL BED UTILIZATION

Despite this, the utilization rate of COVID-19 beds in hospitals nationwide remains at a low risk of 36%.

But according to UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, as much as possible, the hospitals will prepare for the possible onset of new cases after the holiday season.

Aside from the threat of COVID-19, the health sector also expects non-COVID patients to appear in the hospital.

“Now there are more non-COVID patients coming to the hospital than COVID. Maybe hospitals will feel that the patient’s load on non-COVID is getting heavier and it may limit the service to COVID patients, ”said Legaspi.

“We need the help of various healthcare partners to coordinate non-COVID patients to be more efficient so that they do not get out of bed,” said Legaspi.

“We are trying to prepare the system if and when this surge happens we need to have all hospitals compliant to the mandated dedicated beds,” said Vergeire.

Dr. clarified. Guido David of OCTA, who did not see the number of new cases rising to almost 5,000 per day due to the expected “post-holiday surge.”

“The 4,000 cases is actually on the higher end of the projection, not on the lower end. It is a critical number. The last time we went to MECQ, we were at 2,000 cases per day in Metro Manila.

“The FASSSTER projection is not so far. It’s around 3,500 by the end of January. It’s at the end, the worst possible scenario towards the end (of January), ”said Dr. Elvira de Lara-Tuprio of Ateneo de Manila University.

HEALTH PROTOCOLS ENFORCEMENT

The DOH stressed the importance of public compliance with minimum health standards to avoid the threat of a “post-holiday surge.”

Dr. recommended. Antonio Dans of Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) has their “FOUR Must” strategy against the risk of COVID-19 infection.

This includes ensuring that there is adequate ventilation or ventilation in the area where the public gathers or has a family; compliance with physical distancing; regular wearing of face mask and face shield; and limited contact time with other people and public places.

IMAGE | Dr. Antonio Dans

“In summary, at least three out of four ang sundin. That is the passing mark. Pag isa o dalawa lang ang masusunod, hindi sapat ‘yon.”

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), on the other hand, is also alert to the implementation of policy by local governments this Christmas and New Year.

“We recognize the local autonomy of our LGUs. Sila mismo bilang head ng task force sa kanilang lokalidad. Dito sa NCR, yung PNP ang mage-enforce ng guidelines at policies, sa pakikipag-tulungan sa local officials, especially sa barangay level,” said DILG Usec. Bernardo Florece.

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