US CDC gives Philippines ‘high risk’ travel rating, citing rising Covid-19 cases

A Philippine Department of Health spokesperson said that what was more important was to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer


COVID-19 frontliners in a Metro Manila hospital. (FILE PHOTO)

August 17, 2022

MANILA — The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified the Philippines as “high risk” due to rising COVID-19 cases, even as the Department of Health (DOH) pointed out that severe and critical cases in the country remained low.

Maria Rosario Vergeire, officer in charge of DOH, said in a press briefing on Tuesday that the CDC focused only on the incidence rate and testing data.

“In our country, the number of [new] cases is not given equal weight as health-care utilization,” she said, adding that what was important was to prevent the system from being overwhelmed.

“The CDC talks of cases and those testing positive but we have to go deeper—how many cases are severe and critical and how many are admitted. In the Philippines, [the number of] severe and critical cases is low, less than 1,000 and admissions are manageable and we preserve our health-care capacity,” Vergeire said.

The US CDC placed the Philippines on Level 3 for COVID-19, its classification for countries with more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

It does not recommend travel to so-called Level 3 countries for people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination.

The DOH earlier reported that around 4,000 new COVID-19 cases were being detected daily in the country but these were predominantly mild or asymptomatic. Around 30 percent of hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients were in use.

Meanwhile, the DOH called for amendments in the COVID-19 vaccination law in case the government decides to end the “state of calamity” in the country due to the pandemic.

According to Vergeire, the nonextension of the “state of calamity” declaration, set to expire on Sept. 12, will end the validity of the emergency use authorization given to COVID-19 vaccines.

Amending Republic Act No. 11525, or the National Vaccination for COVID-19 law, would help ensure the availability of vaccines, she said.

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