The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has tagged the Philippines as among three countries under the high risk category for COVID-19.
In a travel health notice posted Tuesday, the CDC grouped the country with Nepal and Russia in its Level 3 group.
“Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before traveling to the Philippines,” the CDC said. “If you are not up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, avoid travel to the Philippines.”
Level 3 includes countries with more than 100 COVID-19 new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population.
The CDC warned travelers that those even “up to date” with coronavirus jabs might still be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19.
Anyone 2 years or older should properly wear a well-fitting mask in indoor public spaces, it said.
“If you have a weakened immune system or are at increased risk for severe disease, even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, talk with your clinician about your risk, and consider delaying travel to the Philippines,” the CDC said.
Level 4, previously the highest risk category, is now “reserved for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, and health care infrastructure collapse,” the CDC said.
The Philippines has logged over 1,000 additional cases of the highly transmissible Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.4, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.
The DOH said it found 1,011 additional cases of the Omicron BA.5 and 19 more cases of the BA.4, latest figures from DOH show.
Of the new BA.5 cases, some 907 have recovered, while 53 are undergoing isolation, and the status of 49 patients is being verified. Two have died from the Omicron subvariant, the DOH data show.
Meanwhile, 15 patients of the BA.4 cases have recovered, three are in quarantine and one died from the disease.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government has allotted a budget for the procurement of modified COVID-19 vaccines that target the Omicron variant and the original form of the virus.
“We have reserved some budget for us to procure this kind of next generation vaccines if and when lumabas na siya para sa entire population,” Vergeire said in a press briefing.
In the past week, the Philippines tallied 28,008 fresh coronavirus infections.
From Aug. 1 to 7, the country recorded an average of 4,001 infections per day, up 3 percent compared to the previous week.
To date, some 72.1 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Of the tally, more than 17 million have received their additional jab while 1.8 million have received their second booster shots.
In other developments:
• The Supreme Court has ordered all trial courts nationwide in areas under COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2 or higher to keep a workforce of at least 80 percent on Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Aug. 31. In a circular issued by Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva with the approval of Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, the Court gave trial court judges the discretion to require a 100 percent workforce on-site. The judges will also determine who will work physically and who will work from home. In the National Capital Region (NCR), office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The SC circular also allowed flag-raising and lowering ceremonies, jail visitation, and night court.
• The Las Piñas City government has resumed its COVID-19 vaccination booster shots drive to give residents additional protection against the coronavirus disease. On Monday, the Department of Health in partnership with the city’s Education Schools Division Office also launched the back to school inoculation program in preparation for the resumption of the face-to-face classes on Aug. 22. To date, the City Health Office of Las Piñas has already fully vaccinated 52 percent of individuals belonging to the 5-11 years old age group and is targeting to complete the primary vaccinations and booster shots of the 12-17 years old age group before the resumption of classes.
• The Commission on Audit has called the attention of the DOH for its wastage of vaccines and low fund utilization in 2021. In a 2021 audit report, state auditors said there were 32,724 wasted COVID-19 shots and 12,854 vials of nearly expired vaccines. The vaccine wastage was reported in the National Capital Region, Ilocos, Central Luzon, Zamboanga, Soccsksargen, and Cordilleras due to broken vials, temperature excursion, under-dosing and spillage. The COA said the delay in the administration of vaccines could increase the probability of losing their efficacy, thereby resulting in wastage of government resources. The report also cited P6.648 billion in unobligated COVID-19 funds and P23.656 billion in undisbursed funds. DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire received the COA report on July 29.