Government braces for possible spike in infections after holidays

MANILA. Passengers in public transport units are required to wear face masks and face shields properly. The same requirement is enforced in malls and other public places. (File)

DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday, December 4, assured that the government has put in place measures to address a possible spike in new coronavirus infections after the Christmas season and ensure that the healthcare system would not be overwhelmed.

She said preparations have started, with DOH meeting with the technical advisory group of Health Professionals Alliance against Covid-19 (HPAC).

Vergeire said they also sat down with scientists and mathematicians to discuss projections in terms of new cases. A meeting was also held with the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19.

Guidelines on how to cope with a possible surge in cases in January 2021, as warned by public health experts, were issued to the regional DOH offices.

“We are trying to prepare our hospitals. We are trying to prepare our TTMFs (temporary treatment and monitoring facilities). We want to have this engagement with the local governments already para po lahat tayo handa (so that we are all prepared),” she said.

“Pero hindi lang po dapat gobyerno ang naghahanda. Kailangan bawat individual handa rin. Kailangan bawat individual nag-iingat din para po hindi tayo dumating dito po sa sinasabing possible surge come January kung hindi po natin maiiwasan itong mga pagkakadami ng tao sa malls (at) pagtutumpukan sa mga iba’t ibang public places,”

(Preparations should be done not only by government, but also by each individual. Each individual must exercise caution if gatherings in public places could not be avoided, so that the possible surge in January that experts have warned about will not happen.)

The DOH has been issuing advisories reiterating the need to strictly adhere to the minimum public health standards.

The public is urged to wear face masks and face shields properly, and observe physical distancing in public places and other areas of convergence.

With the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowing face-to-face workshops, meetings, conventions and similar events at 30 percent of venue capacity, Vergeire said it is important that these minimum public health standards are strictly enforced.

She also said the venue must be well-ventilated.

But as much as possible, Vergeire said meetings and similar events should continue to be held virtually because the virus is still here.

Coronavirus infections in the country have been declining since the peak in August, when daily cases averaged 4,111 a day and total cases for the month reached 127,465.

Cases have declined to 90,875 in September, 69,035 in October and further to 50,901 in November.

DOH officials, however, warned that the decline in cases should not be a reason for the public to become complacent. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)


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