WHO: Prepare for increase in oxygen demand amid Delta threat

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
WHO: Prepare for increase in oxygen demand amid Delta threat
Workers for an oxygen supplies company prepare cylinders for distribution in Semarang, Central Java on July 6, 2021, amid a surging demand for oxygen amid a record spike of COVID-19 coronavirus infections including the Delta variant.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines needs to secure sufficient oxygen supply as it prepares for an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said mobilizing additional oxygen supplies is needed because some countries with surges driven by the Delta variant have struggled with shortages of oxygen tanks.

“We’ve seen hospitals are running short of oxygen supplies,” Abeyasinghe said in a briefing.

“We need to prepare for the eventuality that we will need more oxygen supplies so that we can better take care of our patients,” he added.

Last month, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told DZMM “Teleradyo” that the country’s oxygen supply was “sufficient” but additional supplies were needed.

Metro Manila will return to enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20 to contain the spread of the Delta variant that could overwhelm hospitals anew.

So far, local authorities have confirmed 216 cases of the highly transmissible variant.

Vaccination of vulnerable populations

Abeyasinghe also called on the government to focus vaccination efforts on senior citizens and persons with comorbidities who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

“If we can vaccinate senior and comorbid populations, we are going to reduce the number of severe and complicated cases and through this, we could potentially delay or circumvent the overwhelming of hospitals,” the WHO official said.

“Vaccines are still capable of protecting people from severe disease. That’s why we continue to say let’s use vaccines to protect those people who are at high risk of severe disease,” he added.

The country has reported over 1.6 million COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began. Of the figure, 3.9% are active cases.

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