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‘Philippines ranks lowest on COVID-19 deaths among select countries’

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
âPhilippines ranks lowest on COVID-19 deaths among select countriesâ
Citing the “Our World In Data” report, Duque noted the Philippines ranked lowest for mortality related to COVID-19 compared to the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany.
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has the lowest number of deaths from COVID-19 compared to eight other mostly wealthy countries that have the highest number of cases, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday.

Citing the “Our World In Data” report, Duque noted the Philippines ranked lowest for mortality related to COVID-19 compared to the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany.

The data compared the number of deaths from Jan. 5, 2020 up to March 31, 2021.

According to Duque, the Philippines’ low mortality could be attributed to the country’s COVID-19 response.

“A much improved prevent, detect, isolate, treat, reintegrate and lately, improving vaccination rate especially in the National Capital Region… Also, the early detection to isolation efforts of our local government units contribute to the low morbidity,” he told The STAR.

Duque had credited health care workers for the “improved clinical care management” of COVID-19 patients.

He added that the “good Living Clinical Practice Guidelines has guided our physicians in the use of life-saving meds such as Dexamethasone Tocilizumab and Remdesivir and (leading to) better detection outcomes.”

Unvaccinated deaths

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reported yesterday that there were 216,074 COVID-19 patients in health facilities from March 1 to Nov. 14 this year.

Of this, she said 86 percent were not fully vaccinated.

“Based on hospital discharged COVID-19 patient data… deaths and serious outcomes are more likely to happen among unvaccinated,” she claimed.

Severe and critical cases were 1.75 times more likely to occur among the unvaccinated, compared to those fully vaccinated.

“Death was 2.6 times more likely to occur among unvaccinated than those fully vaccinated individuals,” Vergeire added.

The Department of Health (DOH) is hopeful that the Philippines will not go the way of some European countries that saw spikes in COVID-19 cases after loosening up restrictions.

Vergeire said a number of countries in Europe have been reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

But she noted the DOH remains hopeful that cases in the country will not soar despite the relaxed restrictions under the alert level system.

“While we keep a close eye on COVID-19 trends in our country, it is also important to stay up to date with what is happening in other countries… Hopefully, that will not happen to us,” she added.

According to Vergeire, Europe has had a steep rise in the number of cases recently. At the country level, Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic and the Netherlands have the steepest increase in cases.

“Cases in these countries have reached new peaks since the beginning of the pandemic,” she said.

Spikes

The official pointed out the rise in cases was due primarily to two reasons – the loosening of restrictions and requirements for minimum public health standards and “vaccine hesitancy and skepticism.”

She said that some countries in Europe have loosened up their COVID-19 restrictions since June.

England, for instance, removed mask mandates on July 19 despite having their four-week moving average at more than 200,000 cases that week.

“The United Kingdom, however, does not plan to bring back COVID-19 restrictions at present as the country transitions to learning to live with a virus,” she added.

On the other hand, the Netherlands also lifted mask mandates in June as long as social distancing of 1.5 meters is followed.

Vergeire said one of the major differences of the Philippines with these countries is the improved behavior of Filipinos.

“Here in the Philippines, we saw that through the months from the start of the pandemic, the behavior of the people improved in terms of wearing of mask, frequent hand washing, physical distancing,” she maintained.

She added the government will continue to push for compliance with minimum public health standards and ramp up vaccination in order to sustain the “low risk level of the country.”

Vergeire said there are differences in each country’s settings on how to transition into “living with the virus.”

For the Philippines, she claimed this is being done by making sure that the health system capacity is ready, among others.

“When we started our shift in policy, the main goal of this would be for us to be able to really ‘live with the virus’ eventually and that’s why we are looking at the capacity of each local government unit in employing different strategies like the granular lockdowns,” she said.

Under 1,000 cases

After a week, the Philippines has once again logged a daily tally of COVID-19 cases below 1,000, DOH said yesterday.

Based on the DOH’s case bulletin, there were 984 new cases of COVID-19 documented on Nov. 22, bringing the total tally to 2,826,853 cases.

It was on Nov. 16 when the DOH had recorded a single-day tally that was below 1,000 cases at 849 cases.

The DOH noted that two laboratories were not operational on Nov. 20, while three laboratories were not able to submit their data to the COVID-19 Document Repository System.

The agency added that there were 25,464 active cases of COVID-19, representing 0.9 percent of the overall tally.

Data showed 99 COVID-19 patients died, raising the death toll to 45,808, while 2,393 cases have recovered, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,819,341.

Nationwide, the health care utilization rate ranged from 21 percent to 34 percent.

The DOH has reminded the public not to let their guard down.

“We should continue to adhere strictly to the minimum public health standards… Let us all get vaccinated to be protected more against COVID-19,” the agency maintained.

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