THE Philippines has now been classified as “high risk” for coronavirus disease (Covid-19), with the Department of Health (DOH) noting a positive two-week growth rate, an official said Monday, January 3, 2022.

In a media forum, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that as of January 2, 2022, epidemic curves showed that the average daily cases have declined since September, but the current average daily cases have increased significantly by 570 percent this week (December 20-January 2), which is seven times higher than in previous weeks.

She added that the major island groups in the country are also starting to show signs of increasing cases, while the National Capital Region (NCR), which has been placed under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15, 2022, showed a “sharp uptick” in cases in the recent weeks.

“There was a positive two-week growth rate at 222 percent and moderate risk average daily attack rate of 1.07 cases for every 100,000 individuals in the recent weeks,” she said.

Vergeire added that cases in the recent one-week also showed a positive increase.

She said, though, that the national health systems capacity remained at low risk, with total bed utilization at 18 percent and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization at 22 percent.

In the NCR, she said while the one-week and two-week growth rate are considered “high risk,” the health system capacity remains to be under 50 percent utilization.

Aside from NCR, five other regions -- Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and Davao Region -- also showed a positive one-week and two-week growth rates.

“These regions are low to moderate risk case classification. The rest of the regions show positive increase in cases only in the recent one week,” said Vergeire.

She added that the healthcare utilization rate in all regions remain to be at low risk.

“As of January 1, the national healthcare utilization remains to be at low risk at 18 percent. This is two percent higher than the reported utilization rate last December 25 or one week prior, which was at 16 percent,” Vergeire said.

As to the number of individuals testing positive for the virus, Vergeire said an increase in cases, as well as in positivity rate was seen across all regions.

The largest increase was for NCR, where numbers jumped from 932 to 13,756 for the recent week, she said.

Calabarzon, meanwhile, had 2,792 individuals testing positive from just 290 in the previous week.

Hospital admissions also increased by nine percent, while allocated beds decreased by two percent or 883 beds.

In NCR, while total bed utilization remains to be at low risk at 24 percent, admissions are seen to be increasing in the recent week

“Over the course of one week, the NCR saw a 49 percent increase in admissions accompanied by a one percent or 86 bed increase in allocated beds,” Vergeire said.

The DOH continued to remind the public to observe the minimum public health standards to prevent the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases.

Vergeire assured, though, that there is no need to panic despite the detection of Omicron variant in the country, stressing the DOH continues to strictly monitor the new strain and the country is ready to handle a possible surge.

She also appealed to unvaccinated individuals to submit themselves to vaccination, saying it is the first line of defense against the virus. (SunStar Philippines)