DOH: No more COVID-19 case bulletins on social media in 2022

DOH: No more COVID-19 case bulletins on social media in 2022
Children and residents frolic in the snow effect as as sparkling Christmas decors adorn the row of houses along Merced street in Paco, Manila on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:23 p.m.) — The Department of Health announced Monday it will no longer post daily COVID-19 bulletins on social media starting January 1, 2022 in a bid to “streamline public communication.”

Beginning next year, the agency will be providing daily case updates through its website.

“The public tracker, which has been operational since the start of the pandemic, contains all information being provided in the case bulletin and daily situation report,” the DOH said in an advisory.

“Hence, to streamline public communication, the case bulletin and the daily situation report will no longer be issued separately as social media card and as PDF file, respectively,” it added.

The daily bulletin, published on the department’s social media pages and Viber community, contains latest information on new infections, fatalities, recoveries, active cases, positivity rate, and healthcare utilization.

Wrong move, senators say

Some members of the Senate balked at the health department's decision, with Senate President Vicente Sotto III casting doubt on reducing avenues for information dissemination in the face of the risk posed by the Omicron variant and an uptick in cases.

A tweet report by The STAR quotes Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri calling the decision a mistake. "Whether it is decreasing or increasing it is the right of the people to know this and be informed about it," he said.

Sen. Joel Villanueva, meanwhile, said that the daily bulletins are a reminder to the public that the pandemic is not over "and that we must continue to be careful and practice safety protocols."

Sen. Francis Pangilinan stressed that there is a need for accurate information about the pandemic "is crucial in knowing whether or not the spread of the virus is being effectively addressed or not" while Sen. Richard Gordon — chair of the Philippine Red Cross — said that health departments should be doing using as many avenues as possible to get information on the pandemic to the public. 

Apart from Sotto and Pangilinan, who are both running for vice president, the senators who issued statements on the DOH decision are reelectionists.

The DOH's move comes as the country sees an uptick in new infections amid the holiday season and detects more cases of the heavily-mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19.

On Monday, the DOH reported 318 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections to 2,838,792. Of the figure, only 0.3% were active. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with reports from The STAR/Paolo Romero

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