‘We need to learn how to live with the virus’

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    WITH the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic expected to stay for the next two years, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday expressed hopes that the country’s current state will either improve or stay at status quo, but not worse.

    In a virtual press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while “living with the virus” is already inevitable, the least that government health experts can hope for is for the situation to no longer worsen.

    “Yes, we need to learn how to live with the virus. We know it will be here for a long time.

    We have yet to see any signs that it will already end. Even experts around the world are saying that the virus is here to stay so we need to learn how to live with the virus,” said Vergeire.

    “We just hope to maintain our present conditions,” she added.

    In particular, the health official said they hope to maintain the low case fatality rate in the country at 1.58 percent, as well as having almost 98 percent of patients either with mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

    Vergeire said they are also hoping to keep the status of healthcare facilities not being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

    “We don’t need to be afraid even if this will last for two years,” said Vergeire.

    To be able to maintain the status quo, she said it is imperative for the public to adhere to minimum health standards, which the government has said will now become the “new normal” lifestyle for all Filipinos.

    This means always wearing face masks, frequent handwashing, maintaining physical distancing, and staying at home as much as possible.

    “We need to have that behavioral change. We need to comply with minimum health standards,” said Vergeire.

    Over the weekend, no less than WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said they are looking at a time frame of less than two years before the COVID-19 pandemic is defeated.

    The WHO said it is their hope that the pandemic will be defeated in a shorter time than the Spanish flu of 1918.