The trend of new COVID-19 cases recorded nationwide has plateaued but some areas need to be closely monitored because of the continuing spread of the virus, the Department of Health said Monday.
“In the general or the whole country, the trend is plateauing less than 2000, and critical care is at moderate risk,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
Vergeire said the critical care utilization rate, which looks into hospital bed utilization and other factors, remained at moderate risk levels of around 50 percent to 53 percent.
“In general, this is a good indication because it means we are not overwhelmed,” Vergeire said.
“But there are areas that we are monitoring. Like for instance Davao City, we saw their critical care utilization is increasing, that is why we are monitoring the area,” she said.
The DOH spokesperson said effective measures implemented in Metro Manila had also been started in Davao City, which was placed under general community quarantine.
“We are also monitoring other areas like Cebu City because there is an increase in cases although their critical care utilization is not high,” she said.
The DOH official also said they wanted to know why the number of cases in the city had gone up again.
The Philippines logged on Monday 1,799 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 420,614, after seven laboratories failed to submit their data.
With 50 new fatalities, the death toll climbed to 8,173, which is 1.94 percent of the total cases, the DOH reported.
Top cities and provinces with new cases are Cavite, 154; Rizal, 114; Quezon City, 99; Bulacan, 76; and Laguna, 67.
The DOH also reported 25,837 active cases, which is 6.1 percent of the total cases.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday said it was just prudent the government at least take a long hard look at the involvement of the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
He said utilizing PITC for the procurement requirements of several national government agencies might have to be revisited and stopped.
He said this would not only save unnecessary expenses amounting to billions of pesos in delays and commissions or service fees.
Since the creation of the Government Procurement Service under the Department of Budget and Management, Lacson said the PITC might have outlived its purpose.
The government is 10 steps ahead when it comes to the list of recipients of the vaccine, adding that aside from the poor, the priority groups include the military, medical frontlines, and police.
Malacañang made the statement in response to Vice President Leni Robredo’s suggestion for the government to prepare the list of vaccine recipients.
“The government already had a list of potential recipients even before Robredo made her suggestion on Sunday, '' Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing. “We thanked Vice President Leni Robredo for her suggestion but it’s a bit too late, because President Duterte was 10 steps ahead as the government already identified the recipients of the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine."
Malacanang gave assurances the Philippines had enough health workers to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic even after President Duterte cleared the way for thousands of nurses to take up jobs overseas.
Roque said the DOH gave this assurance to the President after the latter approved ending a ban on deploying the nation’s health care workers.
“When Department of Labor and Employment and the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases requested this, the President did not answer immediately because he coordinated with DOH Secretary Duque to ensure we have enough nurses in the country,” Roque said in a press briefing in Davao City.
Last week, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the president already approved the lifting of the temporary suspension of deployment of nurses and other medical workers.
Wearing a face mask and face shield is not enough to protect a person from COVID-19 in a crowded place, DOH warned on Monday.
Vergeire issued the statement in response to crowding of people in Divisoria, Manila and Baclaran in Pasay City in light of people doing Christmas shopping.
Vergeire said the Inter Agency Task Force, which is the policy-making body of the government on COVID-19 response, is not allowing mass gathering because of the huge risk of community transmission in such a setting.
“The risk is there,” Vergeire said.