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WHO expresses concern about surging COVID-19 cases in Philippines

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 15:37, April 07, 2021

MANILA, April 7 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western Pacific Region on Wednesday expressed concern about the surging COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, warning that the increasing trend "is moving towards the red line."

WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai said the number of COVID-19 cases "exceeds or surpasses the capacity of health care."

"We know that once we cross that red line, we put health care workers in a very difficult situation, and once the health care workers start to get infections, the health care capacity goes down," Kasai said during an online media briefing.

He stressed the need to curb the virus transmission immediately.

As of Tuesday, the Philippines had 812,760 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 13,817 deaths.

The Philippines' Department of Health said at least 16,185 medical workers, primarily nurses and doctors, contracted the virus as of April 5. At least 82 among them have succumbed to the disease.

Kasai explained that multiple factors are fueling the virus surge in the Philippines and in other countries, including the emergence of the more transmissible COVID-19 variants, increased mobility, and the lack of people's compliance on preventive measures such as wearing a face covering and washing hands.

He stressed the need to strengthen contact-tracing, surveillance system, and monitoring the more infectious variants to curb the transmission.

"It may not apply to the Philippines, but in other countries we also observe a vaccine optimism (due to) the availability of the vaccine, (prompting people to) relax basic preventive measures," Kasai added.

The effective use of the vaccine against COVID-19 is vital, he said, insisting that "the vaccine alone cannot control the COVID-19."

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