MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday assured that the country’s healthcare system can handle a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases including those of the South African variant.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after health authorities reported six cases of the South African Covid-19 variant in the country.
“Hindi po natin madi-deny na talagang habang nandiyan ang Covid, talagang mas maraming mahahawa. Ang importante, nasa posisyon tayo na bigyan ng medical attention at tulong iyong mga nangangailangan (We cannot deny that while Covid is there, there will be infections. What’s important is that we are in the position to give medical attention to those who need it),” he said in a Palace press briefing.
He encouraged the public to continue observing health and safety protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields, frequent handwashing, physical distancing on top of getting vaccinated.
“Ngayong nandiyan na ang bakuna, bakit naman tayo hihindi lalo na ang mayroon nang mga bagong variants at lalo na kung ikaw po ay isang medical front-liner (Now that we have the vaccine, why say no especially now that there are new variants and especially if you’re a medical front-liner),” he added.
Asked if a stricter community quarantine status may be declared due to the new Covid-19 variant, Roque said it would still depend on the country’s healthcare utilization rate.
“Alam ninyo naman ang ating quarantine classification ang kinukonsidera iyong two-week attack rate, iyong average daily attack rate at pinakaimportante iyong healthcare utilization rate (You know that our quarantine classification takes into consideration the two-week attack rate, the average daily attack rate and the healthcare utilization rate),” he said.
Enhanced vaccination rollout
Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of San Lazaro Hospital’s Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Department, emphasized the need to observe protocols “really religiously”.
“I think we still have to continue the minimum health protocol and we have to implement it really religiously now that we have the more highly transmissible South African variant,” he said.
Solante also stressed the importance of contact tracing for those who have been exposed to the new Covid-19 variant.
“I think the point here is that the amount of work that we will be doing for the contact tracing will be very crucial, especially for those who have been exposed to this South African variant,” he added.
Since there are currently only a few cases of the South African variant, he said the government should also “enhance” the vaccine rollout.
“For now, it is not yet a concern here in the Philippines because itong mga pumapasok na variants kaunti pa lang (these new variants are still few) and that’s the reason why we really have to enhance the rollout, so that time will come na hindi tayo maabutan din ng maraming variant ng ganitong klase na (we won’t experience many variants that) will also lessen the efficacy of this vaccine,” he added.
Earlier, Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire allayed fears that Covid-19 vaccines would offer less protection against the South African variant, saying that while variants might lower the efficacy rate, it still provides protection against severe illness.
The UK variant was first detected in the country on January 13, 2021 with confirmed local transmission in the Cordillera Administrative Region. Azer Parrocha / PNA – northboundasia.com