As the Omicron variant continues to pose a threat to the country’s healthcare system capacities, the national government on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, underscored the need to ramp up the vaccination in other regions as the National Capital Region (NCR) and its neighboring provinces registered sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
In a press briefing, Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles urged other regions to step up their vaccination to cushion the impact of Omicron and other variants to the country’s healthcare capacity, as seen in the NCR.
“Let’s take advantage of increasing the vaccination in the regional areas. While we’re seeing a surge here in Metro Manila at yung mga kalapit na probinsya dito, we have to push for more vaccinations happening in the other regions outside of Metro Manila and Calabarzon,” said Secretary Nograles.
The Palace official emphasized that while Omicron is already spreading in the NCR and nearby provinces, hospital care utilization is not increasing as steeply as the cases are rising as a majority of NCR residents are fully vaccinated and have already received their boosters.
The IATF Co-chair reported that ICU beds is currently at 35 percent utilization in Metro Manila, and 26 percent utilization nationwide. For isolation beds, it is at 32 percent utilization in Metro Manila, and 27 percent utilization nationwide. Meanwhile, ward beds utilization in Metro Manila is at 36 percent, while nationwide it is at 19 percent. For ventilators, it is at 20 percent utilization in the NCR, and 14 percent utilization nationwide.
“We cannot say the same thing sa ibang mga regions. … We need to step up yung vaccination in other regions so that if Omicron or whatever variant goes and spreads dun sa mga regions, then we won’t see an overwhelming number of cases happening in the hospitals,” Nograles said.
Nograles also pointed out that even if fully vaccinated, people should still avoid getting infected so as not to overwhelm healthcare capacities, including overwhelming the healthcare workers.
“Ayaw rin po natin na mataas ang hawaan kase ayaw rin po natin ma-overwhelm ang ating healthcare capacities, and that most importantly involves not getting our healthcare workers overwhelmed with so much work and cases that they have to take care of,” stressed the Cabinet official.
Meanwhile, for the unvaccinated, infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Salvaña, emphasized that although Omicron may be associated with milder symptoms for those who are fully vaccinated, it can still lead to severe or critical disease for the unvaccinated.
In fact, Salvaña said that as much as 85 percent of people in the hospital who are sick with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, while up to 93 percent of those who die of the disease are unvaccinated.
To this, Nograles reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated as he reiterated that all vaccines are safe, effective, and given for free.
“The numbers clearly show how these can prevent serious cases of COVID; 85% po of COVID patients in our ICUs ay mga unvaccinated. Kaya malaking tulong ang bakuna para maprotektahan tayo laban sa COVID-19 at mga variant nito. Malinaw po ang ebidensya: ito ang ating pinakamabisang armas kontra COVID-19,” explained Nograles.
Per the January 04, 2022 data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, more than 110-M total doses have been administered nationwide. Of the target population for vaccination, 79.42 percent or 61,260,924 have already received a first dose, while 65.63 percent of the target population are fully vaccinated.
“Our experience with COVID-19 has shown us that we can contain this disease with prompt, decisive, and measured action on the part of the national government, our Local Government Units, communities, our families, and ourselves, as individuals. This allowed us to overcome the threat posed by the Delta variant, and this will allow us to overcome the challenges posed by the Omicron variant.”