THE Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, September 6, 2021, reminded the public to wear face masks and face shields properly as cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) may still increase due to the higher transmissibility of the Delta variant of Sars-CoV-2.

“Hindi po kwintas ang face mask, at hindi rin po headband ang face shield (The face mask is not a necklace and the face shield is not a headband),” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed during a virtual press conference Monday.

Proper wearing of face masks and face shields, along with physical distancing, are among the minimum public health standards that the DOH is implementing to curb the rapid transmission of Covid-19 in the country.

Vergeire said they expect Covid-19 cases to continue to increase as local government units (LGUs) intensify active case finding efforts.

The DOH earlier projected new cases to peak in mid-September and daily cases in the National Capital Region, second biggest region in terms of population, to reach 17,000 to 43,000 a day by September 30.

These figures could change if interventions are strictly implemented.

“These projections are not cast in stone. These are updated regularly by our Fasster team and Epidemiology Bureau,” Vergeire said.

Aside from compliance to the minimum public health standards, other Interventions are implementation of granular lockdowns, enhancement of active case finding efforts, and fast tracking vaccination.

As of Monday, Vergeire said new infections nationwide and in some regions have decelerated, but 95 percent of provinces, highly urbanized cities and independent component cities remain flagged under Alert Level 3 and 4.

More than half of the 17 regions and 82 percent of flagged areas have a high risk health system capacity.

Only the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao does not have a Delta variant case.

As of August 27, the DOH said the Delta variant has been detected in 1,789 Covid-19 cases, or around 16 percent of the 11,132 sequenced samples.

Two other variants of concern, Alpha and Beta, are also being transmitted in all 17 regions, and have been detected in 2,395 and 2,669 samples, respectively.

The Delta variant, which can infect up to eight people at one time, is rapidly becoming the dominant variant detected in samples subjected to whole genome sequencing. In the last sequencing run, Delta was found in nearly 69 percent of the samples. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)