‘NO LOCKDOWN, TRAVEL CURBS’: W. Visayas’s COVID-19 risk remains low – DOH

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Western Visayas remains at low risk for COVID-19 despite an increase in cases and the spread of the new variant “FLiRT” in the country, according to the Department of Health (DOH-6) on Friday, June 14.

Dr. Bea Natalaray, medical officer at the Infectious Disease Section of the DOH-6, reported that the region has 525 active COVID-19 cases, with 157 new cases recorded between June 2 and 8.

She added that the daily average of new cases is 22, a 14 percent increase compared to the same week last year.

The DOH-6 noted that most cases are mild at 67.81 percent, asymptomatic at 19.24 percent, moderate at 11.81 percent, and severe at 1.14 percent.

“Looking into the factors such as the percentage of mild and asymptomatic cases, we can consider that Western Visayas is still low risk,” Natalaray said.

She highlighted the low utilization rate of health facilities and the high vaccination and booster rates in the region.

Natalaray emphasized that there is no need for lockdowns or travel restrictions but advised the public, especially seniors and immunocompromised individuals, to be aware of their risk and follow public health measures such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

“We always encourage voluntary wearing of face masks, especially if there are comorbidities like senior citizens or if we are going to a crowded area,” she said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization on May 3 designated four JN.1 sublineages — JN.1.7, JN.1.18, KP.2, and KP.3, more commonly known as “FLiRT” — as currently circulating variants under monitoring.

Natalaray noted that there is no current evidence to show that the KP.2 and KP.3 variants could cause severe to critical COVID-19.

“As to the severity, we do not have data yet if it can cause severe or critical symptoms since it is an offshoot of the Omicron variant,” she said.

To prevent a sudden surge in cases, the DOH-6 urged the public to remain vigilant and for those with flu-like symptoms to avoid going back to workplaces to control the spread of the virus.