MANILA

Group notes ‘deteriorating compliance’ to health protocols

CEBU. In this photo taken in August 2020, a law enforcer carries a one-meter-long stick to enforce physical distancing of at least one meter between two people in public. (SunStar Cebu)

A UNIVERSITY professor who is part of the Octa Research on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, noted a “deteriorating compliance” to minimum public health standards.

Octa research fellow Ranjit Rye said their nationwide surveys showed that while most respondents wear face masks, only a few wear face shields and practice physical distancing.

“While most people practice the minimum health standards, they don’t practice it everyday. In fact, majority of people wear face masks (but) the number goes down as we talk about face shields and social distancing,” he said in a virtual forum.

“These three basic elements of the minimum public health safety standards have to be maintained on an everyday basis until we have vaccinations for everyone in place,” he added.

In a virtual press conference, Department of Health (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau Director Althea de Guzman said there was a spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the last two weeks after the plateau in the previous three to four weeks.

She said the number of cases from February 14 to 27 was 13.72 percent higher than the infections from January 31 to February 13.

De Guzman said cases increased in the National Capital Region by 55.47 percent, Central Visayas by 49.66 percent and Cordillera Administrative Region by 11.83 percent.

She noted the alarming cases in Pasay City, where 91 percent of the barangays were affected by the virus.

Pasay has recorded 12,452 cases with 10,616 recoveries and 168 deaths as of March 2. Four of these have the B.1.351 variant, which was first detected in South Africa.

However, healthcare utilization was still low at 46 percent.

“What’s really good about Pasay is they have instituted a lot of actions already. Number one, stricter na lockdowns. It’s now barangay-wide lockdowns, and ikalawa po ‘yung active case finding... (and) pag-e-ensure na ang cases po nila ay nata-transfer to an isolation facility para po ma-minimize na ‘yung transmission,” De Guzman said.

Rye said the spike in Covid-19 cases could have been caused by the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) and B.1.351 (South Africa) variants.

“While it is not yet in all cities, we’re seeing that the trend is going up, the reproduction number is above 1.0 and we feel that the virus is spreading,” he said.

“Given that there are variants already identified, we suspect that these two variants may be driving the increase in Covid-19 infections in many of the LGUs (local government units) observed,” he added.

Based on the reproduction number of 1.5, the group said cases are projected to increase to 2,200 per day by the end of March.

Octa urged LGUs to boost testing, tracing, isolation as well as implementation of community lockdown to prevent the further spread of the virus.

De Guzman, for her part, said the number of cases depend on compliance to the minimum health protocols.

“Kung ikokonteksto natin, kung ako ay positibo sa South Africa variant pero ‘yung mga nakakasalamuha ko ay... sumusunod po sa ating mga minimum public health standards, ‘yung risk ko na mang-infect ng ibang tao ay na-mi-minimize or zero risk po,” she said.

“It’s really the practice of these preventive measures that will drive kung tataas ang kaso natin or hindi. Posibleng mag-contribute dito ‘yung mga variants but, at the end of the day, we have to practice masking, physical distancing,” she added. (SunStar Philippines)


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