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WHO: Philippines still not at low risk for future COVID-19 infections

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WHO: Philippines still not at low risk for future COVID-19 infections
Devotees are assisted by members of the Hijos del Nazareno while reminding them of the strict compliance to health protocols as they wait in line to enter the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila for the first Friday of the month devotion Mass on July 2, 2021. Other members of the faithful settle to hear Mass at the Plaza Miranda as the church only accommodates 50% of its seating capacity to maintain social distancing inside the church.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, file

 MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization’s representative to the Philippines said the country is still not at low risk for future COVID-19 infections despite a decline in new cases which prompted the health department to classify the country as a “low-risk” area. 

“If you’re looking at it from the perspective of are we at low-risk of future COVID cases, no, we are not at low risk for future cases,” WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe told ANC’s Headstart on Tuesday. 

Abeyasinghe said health authorities must remain cautious in their messaging so the public remains aware that the risk of infection remains. 

“Giving them wrong messaging could result in lower compliance to minimum public health standards,” he said.  

He added that it is not yet appropriate to call a country low-risk as new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 crop up. 

“Until we are reasonably confident that we have beaten the variant, I think we shouldn’t cross there,” he said. 

The Department of Health announced last Thursday that it now considers the Philippines as a “low-risk” area after the growth rate of the virus dropped by 9% over the last two weeks, while the average daily attack rate, or the number of cases divided by the population, stood at 5.42. 

Despite this, Dr. Alethea de Guzman, officer in charge of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, said that people should still adhere to COVID-19 protocols such as the wearing of masks and face shields, and keeping a safe distance away from people. — Xave Gregorio

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH RABINDRA ABEYASINGHE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
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