The country's current pandemic response protocols will continue to be implemented to combat the rising number of COVID-19 cases as the Department of Health waits for its new secretary to be appointed by President Bongbong Marcos, the agency said Saturday.
The new president has yet to name his health secretary, with former DOH chief Francisco Duque III leaving his post last June 30 alongside other Cabinet officials appointed by former President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Everything is status quo until new directives from our new President come in," the DOH said in response to queries from reporters.
"The country’s COVID-19 response actions, along with actions for all other non-COVID health matters, continue through senior DOH officials supervising specific bureaus. offices and units. We await and are ready for the announcement of the next Secretary of Health," it added.
Malacañang issued a memorandum last Friday, the first day of the Marcos administration, declaring positions occupied by Duterte's appointees vacant, to be filled up by the next-in-rank and most senior official as officer-in-charge or OIC.
As the DOH awaits for its new leader, the country recorded an increase in COVID-19 cases, with 88% of provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities showing higher cases, the agency said in its July 1 report.
However, the average daily attack rates --- or the number of daily new cases per 100,000 population --- and utilization rates of health facilities remain at "low risk" in the majority of these areas, with severe and critical cases accounting for less than 1.5% of hospital admissions, the department added.
For the period of June 25 to July 1, the DOH said the average number of new cases per day was at 914, 53% higher than the previous week. Active cases stood at 8,706.
Positivity rate, or the number of those who test positive for COVID-19, increased to 6% across the country during the same period, while it went up to 8.2% in Metro Manila.
The spread of the virus is "under control" if the positivity rate stays below 5%, according to the benchmark set by the World Health Organization.
In his inaugural address, Marcos said he would fix the government's "shortcomings" in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, assuring the public that there would be "no more secrets" when it comes to public health concerns.