DOH on post-poll Covid spike watch

by May 11, 2022Featured Article, News

THE Department of Health (DoH) on Tuesday said it is monitoring a possible spike in the number of Covid-19 cases after it saw violations of health protocols during Monday’s local and national elections.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted that they have seen different implementations of safety protocols in different voting places across the country, and some areas were not able to follow them because of the large number of people converging in polling precincts.

“In other voting centers, naging maayos ang daloy ng pagboboto, naipatupad ang sinet na protocols pero totoo po ‘yan, we have observed na may areas na hindi na nakasunod [sa] itinalaga nating (In other voting centers, the voting went smoothly and the set protocols were followed, but we also observed some areas that did not follow our) safety protocols,” Vergeire said during a media briefing.

She added that even if there were violations of physical distancing observed at polling stations, if people followed other health standards such as proper ventilation and proper masking, as well as being vaccinated against the virus, it would be enough to protect them from the disease.

Vergeire said she believes that the long lines that voters experienced in polling places were more “agreeable” than having people cramping themselves in the voting centers.

Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, infectious disease expert and DoH Technical Advisory Group (TAG) member, said there is no “perfect system” to contain so many people entering the polling places, and each venue has to adapt to the situation.

Fellow TAG member and infectious disease expert Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim said continuing with the mask mandate will continue to protect people from Covid-19 infection.

Vergeire said they continue to expect a possible rise in the number of cases if there is 30 to 50 percent compliance with health standards by the end of the month, but they are not discounting the possibility that increases may happen within the next 7 to 14 days after the elections.

Currently, the country remains under low risk for Covid-19, with 159 cases reported per day during the week of May 3 to 9, which is 37 percent lower than the week of December 18 to 24, the week before the country’s Omicron variant-fueled surge.

The DoH said it was able to resolve 644 medical cases in polling centers across the country, of which 57 were sent to hospitals for minor injuries and health emergencies, while 31 were sent for home isolation and were referred by health workers.

Vergeire said overall, they never saw anyone who had experienced severe Covid-19 symptoms and most of the detections had Covid-related symptoms.

On Election Day also, 333 vaccination sites in polling places were set up by various local government units in the country where 7,407 individuals were given vaccines.

The 7,407 individuals formed part of the more than 68 million, or around 76 million of the 77 million targeted population, which Vergeire said the DoH aims to reach before the end of the Duterte administration in June.