Politics

Philippine infection rate rose by 13% in past week

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PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

DAILY coronavirus infections in the Philippines rose by 13% in the past week from a week earlier, according to the Department of Health (DoH).

In a bulletin, the agency said 27,331 more Filipinos got infected on Aug. 1 to 7, or a daily average of 3,904 cases. Of the new cases, 76 were severe and critical cases.

DoH verified 80 more deaths in the past week, 32 of which occurred from July 25 to Aug. 7.

It said 624 of 2,514 intensive care unit (ICU) beds had been used as of Aug. 7, while 6,648 of 21,548 non-ICU beds were occupied. There were 772 severe and critical admissions.

Almost 72 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, while more than 16.6 million have received booster shots, DoH said.

Meanwhile, the OCTA Research Group said the infection wave spurred by more contagious Omicron subvariants could last as long as five months.

“Our current wave is already longer than we expected,” OCTA fellow Fredegusto P. David told a televised news briefing. “Initially, we expected a two-month wave due to Omicron BA4 and BA5.”

He said the wave had not yet reached its peak. “It [could] last up to four or five months.” “It’s taking longer.”

The infection wave experienced by the Philippines now is probably being prolonged by waning immunity among vaccinated Filipinos, Mr. David said.

Despite the prolonged wave, the infection rate in the capital region has fallen to 8% from 14%, Mr. David said.

“Our growth rate is now less than 10%,” he said. “It’s still possible that we will see a peak soon. It’s not guaranteed because as we have seen, our [infection] wave has been prolonged,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

“It’s a slight concern that we are not seeing a slowdown yet,” he separately told CNN Philippines. “We might see more than 5,000 cases this week or early next week.”

Majority or 85% of coronavirus samples were of the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, the Philippine Genome Center told the same briefing. The country had detected 3,107 Omicron BA.5 cases as of Friday, health authorities said.

“In the past month alone, BA.5 was the predominant sample or variant,” Genome Center Director Cynthia Saloma said.

The sublineage of the predominant Omicron subvariant in the country is mostly BA.5.2, while the ones in the US and Europe are BA.5.1, she said, adding that they were watching for signs of further mutation in BA.5.

Health authorities have also detected two BA.2.75 cases, 174 BA.2.12.1 cases, and 104 BA.4 cases, DoH said.

There was no evidence yet that the BA.2.75 subvariant would cause another infection surge in the country, DoH technical advisory group member Edsel Salvana said.

“There is a preliminary study that there’s a chance of it being more transmissible, though this has not been confirmed,” he said in Filipino. “Let us not panic, but we should be vigilant.

Also on Monday, the Health department said the country’s first monkeypox patient finished his 21-day isolation on Aug. 5 and might soon be released from isolation.

The 10 close contacts of the 31-year-old patient were still under quarantine, it told reporters in a Viber message.

The country’s first monkeypox patient was confirmed on July 29. The patient arrived from overseas on July 19 and had visited countries with documented cases of the disease. — K.A.T. Atienza