The COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines has yet to be downgraded to an endemic disease, the Department of Health said Friday, as the surge driven by the omicron variant shows signs of slowing down.
In the case of COVID-19, it can be considered endemic when cases are manageable and the community lives with the disease as part of everyday life, like dengue or measles, Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
Since Feb. 8, daily COVID-19 cases have fallen below 10,000, from a peak of 39,004 on Jan. 15, the highest for the year.
"Dadating tayo doon sa state na endemic na siya dito sa ating bansa kung ang mataas na pagbabakuna natin o natural immunity, plus the fact na manageable, predictable, stable na ang mga kaso sa ating bansa o sa buong mundo dahil pandemic is worldwide," she told reporters.
"Hindi pa ho natin nakikita 'yan," Vergeire said, referring to the prospects of an endemic COVID-19. "Nothing is certain at this point."
There are other factors to consider aside from lower cases, Vergeire said.
"'Di ho natin alam kung kailan ulit magkakaroon ng pagtaas ng kaso, hindi pa rin po natin alam kung may bagong variant na dadating, kung mas transmissible ba ito, kung mas nakakapag-produce ba ng severe na disease o hindi," said Vergeire.
Filipino authorities are ready to transition to the new normal when the time comes, she said. Adjusting to it will be a "balancing act" and while vaccinated people are protected from hospitalization and death, everyone should still be reminded that new variants could emerge, she said.
"Kinakailangan pa rin po nating sumunod sa ating health protocols para manatili tayong ligtas at maiwasan natin ang pagkakaroon ng future outbreaks"
She also urged those unvaccinated to get their jabs to protect themselves against the coronavirus.
The country has fully vaccinated 60.6 million Filipinos nationwide as of Feb. 9, according to the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC).
The government aims to fully inoculate 90 million Filipinos by end of June to build a "wall of immunity", protecting the population from coronavirus variants, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said.