DOH clarifies Galvez’ midyear surge warning, says gov’t always preparing for possible COVID-19 case spikes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 14)— The Health Department on Wednesday clarified vaccine czar Carlito Galvez’ earlier pronouncement that there may be a new COVID-19 case surge in the middle of the year, noting that the government is just preparing should that happen.

“We have to qualify the statement of Secretary Galvez,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.

“He was just trying to say that there might be this possibility of another surge in these coming months if we are not going to continuously comply with the protocols and if we are not going to be able to contain the spread of this virus,” she relayed.

In line with this, Vergeire underscored the need to ramp up efforts for the pandemic response — especially with the uncertainty brought by the crisis.

“We need to prepare that there would be another surge maybe in a couple of months, maybe towards the end of the year,” Vergeire said. “What we really need to do is to ramp up our efforts so that these surges will not happen again.”

She noted the most critical factor would be maintaining the country’s healthcare system in order for hospitals to accommodate patients as much as possible.

Vergeire made the clarification after Galvez, in a television interview on Tuesday, said another surge may take place in June or July.

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David echoed the DOH’s stance, saying Galvez’ statement was done as a “precaution” since the threat of a surge is always there.

Nationwide COVID-19 cases reached 884,783 on Tuesday after the DOH logged 8,571 new virus infections. But Vergeire said the decrease in cases — which went as high as 15,000 on April 2 — can be considered “artificial” as some laboratories did not operate over the weekend.

“Yesterday’s numbers were a little bit low," Vergeire noted. "So this is just artificial— it is not a true reflection."