‘Philippines’ active virus cases seen to reach 500,000’

THE Philippine Health department is projecting active coronavirus cases to approach the 500,000-level by the end of April if the country does not impose its hardest lockdown measure.

At a press briefing on Monday, Department of Health (DoH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire was quoted as saying that there was a “continuing and swift rise of cases” in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its neighboring provinces such as Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna.

“They said that if we don’t implement immediate and harder measures, we would see 430,000 active cases by the end of April nationally, and 350,000 cases in NCR alone by the end of April,” she said, referring to data by disease surveillance tool FASSSTER.

“We did ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) because this will provide time for us to address this non-compliance with health protocols and operational issues in relation to case detection, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine,” she added.

Vergeire said that the healthcare sector was already “choking,” as utilization rates have gone up to 63 percent in NCR and to 58 percent in CALABARZON or Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon.

ECQ is referred to as the country’s hardest lockdown. It was first introduced in March 2020 and lasted up to May in the same year.

“What would be more worrisome is our ICU utilization rate, wherein if you look at the different areas affected or included in ‘NCR Plus’ bubble, you would find utilization ranging from 70 percent to 100 percent for their ICU beds,” she said.

Vergeire intensified calls for an ECQ extension to “slow down the surge of cases, stop the spread of variants, allow the health system to recover and protect more lives.”

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