Joint statement on preventing a post-holiday surge

Press Release | 17 December 2020

In the past few months, our country has seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases. From our peak in August, when our health system was almost overwhelmed, consuming almost 80% of our critical care capacity, we have managed to reduce the reproduction number to around 1.0 from a starting reproduction number of 3.27 and have maintained a lower critical care utilization rate even in highly-urbanized cities. We have also seen improvements in the management of COVID-19 cases, as reflected by lower case fatality rates.
 
We, as a nation, have come a long way in our COVID-19 response. But the virus is still here and we should remain cautious and vigilant. As we celebrate this holiday season, let us put prime importance on our safety and the safety of everyone around us. Let us not squander our gains in this pandemic response.
 
Upon reviewing the trends in the recent week, the Department of Health has seen a slowing down of the previous improvement in the epidemic curve. There has been a continuous growth of cases in Metro Manila, signaling the start of a surge. Nine cities are now at moderate risk compared to last month when all cities were at low risk. The average daily attack rate in all NCR cities is also higher than the national average.
 
We have also observed an increase in the number of cases in Regions I, II, and CAR. If this  trend continues and is not mitigated, it will lead to a sharp spike of cases that might overwhelm our health system capacity, similar to the peak we experienced last August in the NCR. The occurrence of another surge will no longer be a matter of “if” but of “when and by how much”.
 
We have witnessed what a spike in cases might mean to us—the extensive lockdowns and how it has affected our families, our healthcare workers, the small businesses and large enterprises alike, and how it almost, if not completely, paralyzed our economy. We do not want that to happen again. Ang laban pong ito ay hindi kakayanin ng gobyerno at ng sektor ng kalusugan lamang. Kailangan po namin ang kooperasyon ng bawat mamamayan. In our own ways, we can stop this surge from happening.
 
In this season of hope, and even in the succeeding months, let us continue to be cautious and be mindful of our every action. The DOH, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Philippine General Hospital, EpiMetrics, Inc., FASSSSTER, OCTA Research Group, DOH-Technical Advisory Group, and the Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19, urge everyone to be part of the solution in preventing the further escalation of cases.
 
To the public, keep observing the minimum public health standards or the BIDA Solusyon sa COVID-19 StrategiesBawal ang walang mask, I-sanitize ang kamay, Dumistansya ng isang metro, at Alamin ang tamang impormasyon. We should also avoid the high-risk 3Cs in our activities -- Closed settings, Crowded places, and Close conversations. Lastly, beware of the 3V superspreader settings where transmission of the disease is highly likely—Venues where there is crowding, Ventilation that is poor, and Vocalization, i.e., many people talking loudly or singing.
 
We also call on hospitals to comply with the prescribed COVID-19 bed allocation - 20% for private hospitals and 30% for public hospitals - and with the Minimum Health System Capacity Standards. As early as May, we have set these standards based on the projected needs and potential peak.
 
For our local government units, strictly enforce the Minimum Public Health Standards. Complement this with active case finding and with immediate quarantine or isolation of close contacts and confirmed cases, respectively.
 
Unti-unti na po tayong bumabangon at alam po naming marami sa atin ay sabik nang bumalik sa normal ang lahat. Huwag po natin hayaan na madagdagan pa ang mga Pilipinong naging biktima ng COVID-19. Bagamat sa ngayon ay naaagapan na natin ang pinsala ng virus, hindi pa tapos ang laban at kinakailangan nating lahat maging matatag at manatiling disiplinado. Muli, kami po ay nananawagan na ating paigtingin ang pagsunod sa ating basic health protocols. Sa darating na ka-Paskuhan, huwag nating hayaang maging bunsod ng pagkakahawaan ang ating pampamilyang selebrasyon. Munting paraan lamang po ito ngunit malaki ang maitutulong sa pagpigil sa paglaganap ng COVID-19.