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End of Covid ‘in sight’

DoH Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMORDoH Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR 

THE Department of Health (DoH) agreed with the observation of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic is “in sight,” but added that the country must be prepared to transition to the endemic stage.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that with the number of new cases and deaths continuing to fall, the Covid-19 pandemic is nearing its end.

“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” Tedros said in his briefing on Wednesday.

DoH Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire agreed with Tedros, but said the country’s health system must be ready to treat Covid as an endemic.

In a briefing Friday, Vergeire said the country must also brace for possible outbreaks of Covid-19 “every now and then” by continuing to build up the immunity of the population.

Vergeire said the declaration of the pandemic being downgraded to an endemic will be made by the President on the recommendation of the DoH.

Covid-19 cases in the National Capital Region have risen slightly, along with the positivity rate which is now at 16.4 percent. But hospital utilization rate remains steady below 40 percent for both ward and intensive care unit beds.

Vergeire said the increase in the positivity rate cannot be attributed to the recent lifting of the mask mandate, but the increased mobility brought about by the start of face-to-face classes may have contributed to it.

In a separate briefing, OCTA Research senior fellow Dr. Guido David said Covid cases were up in Bulacan, Rizal and Pangasinan.

David said he does not consider Metro Manila’s positivity rate of 14.5 percent, up from the 12 percent the previous week, as “alarming.”

“It is not yet a cause for alarm, but we should be aware that we should act accordingly,” he said.

He said the rise of cases across the country is inconsistent, with certain areas of Luzon and the entire Visayas and Mindanao reporting dropping numbers.

Vergeire said that based on the guidelines that will be released early next week, mandatory mask-wearing outdoors will be enforced once again if an area goes under Alert Level 3.

Alert Level 3 is imposed if the hospital bed utilization is above 71 percent, and the average daily attack rate is higher than 6 to 18 cases per 100,000 population.

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