COVID-19: Philippines headed for red line, warns WHO

By Pizaro Gozali Idrus

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the Philippines will soon cross a “red line” and exhaust its healthcare sector’s capacity to handle COVID-19 cases, local media reported on Wednesday.

Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO’s director for the Western Pacific Region, said the ongoing surge in infections in the Philippines was due to multiple reasons, including new virus strains, lax enforcement of safety guidelines, and increasing movement of people, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The country reported over 11,000 infections at the start of this week, the highest among 37 countries in the Western Pacific, and the daily figure was just over 9,200 on Thursday.

The overall COVID-19 case count in the Philippines is now close to 830,000, including more than 14,100 fatalities.

“We are concerned about the situation in the Philippines … because the surge is really continuing and moving toward the so-called red line, where the number of cases exceed or surpass the capacity of health care,” Kasai said.

Despite the availability of vaccines, he stressed the need for people to keep wearing masks and follow physical distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Business owners also need to think of ways to minimize risk of transmission in workplaces, he added.

“These measures are effective even against the variants of concern,” the official said, adding that the WHO was encouraging countries to increase surveillance to track the spread of new virus strains.

* Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo with Anadolu Agency's Indonesian language services in Jakarta