‘No need for stricter lockdown, for now’


    DESPITE the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in at least 12 regions outside Metro Manila, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said stricter community restrictions are not yet necessary.

    “We use as parameters our healthcare utilization rate and number of cases. When we look at these parameters, there are no signs yet of having the need for a lockdown,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing.

    “We will continue to implement this until the time that the parameters will tell us that we should have another form of stricter restrictions,” she added.

    Last week, the DOH said that 12 of 17 regions in the country are seeing a big surge in COVID cases – Ilocos Region, Bicol Region, Soccsksargen, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Caraga, and Cordillera Administrative Region.

    Vergeire added they believe the current system of having localized lockdowns is currently effective and eliminates the need for massive community restrictions.

    “Having granular lockdowns, localized lockdowns appear to be working. This results to less burden on our economy,” she said.

    Vergeire said it would be impractical to resort to stricter lockdowns whenever a surge in cases in certain areas is observed.

    “A specific area cannot remain in lockdown forever because there are a lot of repercussions,” she said.

    In its latest bulletin, the DOH reported 1,581 new cases yesterday, raising the total number of infections in the country to 514,996. Having the highest number of new cases were Quezon City (89), Cebu City (88), Cavite (80), Davao City (78), and Cebu (50).

    Fifty more patients succumbed to the deadly virus, raising the number of fatalities to 10,292. This means the case fatality rate in the country is now up to 2 percent, the DOH said.

    There were 13 more recoveries, meaning the number of survivors is now up to 475,422.

    There are still 29,282 active cases, 84.3 percent of which are mild cases, 8.6 percent asymptomatic cases, 4.1 percent critical cases, 2.6 percent severe cases, and 0.51 percent moderate cases.

    Forty-nine more Filipinos have been infected with the virus, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

    This brought to 13,828 the total number of overseas Filipinos sickened by the virus, with 8 828 have recovered, leaving 4,055 still undergoing treatment.

    No new death was reported. The current death toll among overseas Filipinos stands at 945.

    The independent OCTA Research Team said that based on current figures, the National Capital Region has prevented what could have been a disastrous post-holiday surge of COVID cases.

    “In the National Capital Region (NCR), the trend has leveled off as the first month of 2021 is one week away from completion,” OCTA said in its January 25 report. “The trends confirm that NCR was able to avert a holiday surge.”

    The research group said the reproduction number in the NCR stood at 1.08 as of January 23 while the positivity rate has remained at 4 percent.

    “The trend is similar in all LGUs in the NCR, where no LGU had any significant increase in cases,” OCTA said, attributing this to the cooperation of all stakeholders.

    “This is attributed to the efforts of the national and local governments, the media, and the residents of NCR for cooperating in helping to avoid a possible surge,” OCTA said.

    OCTA warned NCR residents on the threat of the United Kingdom strain of COVID-19, saying: “It is important that everyone remain vigilant, especially with the threat of the UK B.1.1.7 variant, which is opportunistic and, at anytime, can impact the course of the pandemic.” – With Ashzel Hachero