DOH says COVID-19 cases ‘mild, manageable’ despite uptick

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DOH says COVID-19 cases �mild, manageable� despite uptick
Individuals walk along the LRT Monumento Station during rush hour in Caloocan on May 16, 2024.
The STAR / Ryan Baldemor

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday that COVID-19 cases in the Philippines remain “mild and manageable” despite a recent rise in infections. 

The Philippines reported an average of only 202 COVID-19 cases daily for the week of May 14 to 20. 

The DOH said this was a substantial decrease compared to the start of 2024, which saw an average of around 500 cases a day. The figure was also significantly lower than the average of around 1,750 daily cases logged in mid-May 2023. 

Data from the department showed that hospital occupancy for COVID-19 patients remained low. Only 12% of 1,155 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 14% of 10,356 non-ICU beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients were occupied. 

Only 151 severe and critical cases were admitted, accounting for 9% of the country’s total COVID-19 hospital admissions. 

The health agency said that its Bureau of Quarantine is enforcing heightened screening at points of entry nationwide and the University of the Philippines Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) are conducting sequencing efforts. 

“Whether or not sequencing shows variants flagged by global health agencies, the DOH assumes the flagged Omicron subvariants (i.e. KP.2, KP.3) are already likely here, and notes that cases continue to be clinically mild and manageable,” it said. 

So-called “FLiRT” variants of COVID-19, which include KP.2 and KP.3, appeared to be contributing to a rising wave of COVID-19 cases across the globe. 

While they were classified as variants under monitoring by the World Health Organization (WHO), the DOH stressed that there is no evidence that KP.2 and KP.3 “are causing severe to critical COVID-19, both locally and internationally.”

The department urged the public to continue practicing these preventive measures: proper mask-wearing, frequent handwashing, avoiding crowded spaces and ensuring good ventilation.

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