National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday warned of another surge of coronavirus cases in June or July.
“We have to expect this coming June or July that we might have another peak or surge,” Galvez said in an interview with ANC.
Galvez gave this warning as he said there are various COVID-19 variants in the country and the vaccine efficacy will be determined six to nine months after the start of the vaccination program rollout.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. There is a wrong notion that the COVID-19 crisis is already finished in some other countries. It can reappear anytime. We have to expect for the worst when we are planning something and we are now preparing for it,” he added.
This developed as the Philippines on Tuesday logged 8,571 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 884,783, the Department of Health reported.
According to the DOH, the day's relatively low figure of newly reported COVID-19 cases was due to the fewer testing laboratories that operated on Sunday, April 11.
Total active cases in the country were logged at 165,534, or 18.7 percent of the total. The DOH also announced that total recoveries climbed to 703,963, which is 79.6 percent of the total, after 400 new patients recovered from the illness.
Some 137 new fatalities brought the death toll to 15,286, which is 1.73 percent of the total.
The Philippines may experience a downward trend in new coronavirus infections in the next two weeks, a group of experts said Tuesday, as Metro Manila and four nearby provinces remain under stricter quarantine restrictions.
"We're hoping that the downward trend will happen within two weeks but that doesn’t mean we have contained this," Dr. Guido David of OCTA Research Group told ANC.
The capital region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal may still log at least 4,000 cases per day by then, he added.
"Nationally, we could be at around 9,000 to 10,000 cases per day around the end of April. To reduce that to 50 percent would require about 30 days because that's how we see it in the past," Guido said.
The OCTA Research Group noted that the COVID-19 reproduction rate has slowed down to 1.24 from 1.88 following the reimposition of a two-week enhanced community quarantine in the Greater Manila area.
The reproduction rate of a virus is a measure of its transmission or the number of new infections generated by each case.
Galvez said the government was expanding healthcare facilities in the National Capital Region as coronavirus cases were increasing.
Based on their projection, Galvez said at least 2 percent of all active cases were critical, and the government needs to provide 600 additional intensive care unit beds in Metro Manila.
There are currently 1,395 ICU beds in the NCR, with the IATF looking at adding 1,350 regular beds for those with moderate and mild symptoms, as well as for those who are asymptomatic.
Galvez said private hospitals promised to increase their COVID-19 bed capacity once they receive payment from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
Galvez said: “With the payment from PhilHealth, about P9.577 billion for hospitals in NCR, Region 4 and Region 3, they promised to expand their ICU beds. They promised to add 164 ICU beds and open additional wards and beds, around 1,157 beds for moderate and severe cases.”
The local governments of Quezon City, Taguig, Caloocan, Manila, Pasay, Valenzuela, San Juan, Navotas, Paranaque and Makati also committed additional 30 ICU beds for critical patients, Galvez added.
In the coming months, the IATF will be adding more than 2,000 beds in different areas for moderate and severe cases, as well as for mild and asymptomatic cases.
He also noted the “cycle” of infections in Cebu, National Capital Region and Bacolod City during the first wave of COVID-19 in the country last year.
“Until such time that there is already a definite cure or definite elimination for COVID, that is the time that we will see what we call the economic recovery,” Galvez said.