No increase in hospitalization seen amid Omicron surge



The Manila Times


GOVERNMENT epidemiologists believe there won’t be any significant increase in the number of hospitalizations forthcoming even as there is an expected uptick in Covid-19 Omicron subvariant cases this coming holiday season. Dr. Alethea de Guzman, director of the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau, said the number of hospitalizations will not exceed that of the previous surges due to the Alpha, Beta or Delta variants. “While we are also looking at Covid-19 admissions, we are also looking at the non-Covid-19 admissions,” de Guzman said in a forum on Tuesday. However, Dr. John Wong of EpiMetrics Inc. noted that despite the low number of hospitalizations due to Covid-19, the number of “excess deaths” or those deaths that are in excess of the yearly average before the pandemic. “We had more excess deaths due to non-communicable conditions, primarily chronic conditions, than Covid deaths,” Wong said. From 2020 to 2021, there were 75,756 deaths due to heart failure, 21,568 deaths due to stroke, and 12,670 deaths due to hypertension. Most of them, Wong said, were undiagnosed during the pandemic because of lack of access to health care or were afraid to see their doctors during the pandemic. “What we need is to build a better primary care system where their comorbid conditions can be diagnosed and then managed over the long term, but we also have to address these risk factors,”Wong said. Wong also said that the government should also decide on how many deaths and hospitalizations the country must experience before it can decide on whether to consider the Covid-19 pandemic as an “endemic” disease. “Endemicity is not something that will just happen to us because of the virus, it is something that we need to do — vaccination, ventilation and improving primary care,” Wong said. He also urged the government to take steps to protect the highly vulnerable such as senior citizens and persons with comorbidities. Based on the projections made by the Fassster (Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using SpatioTemporal Epidemiological Modeler For Early Detection of Diseases) application showed that cases will decrease to around 429 daily cases nationwide if the current health protocols are followed. De Guzman, however, said that it would increase to around 1,140 to 2,294 per day if there is a continued decrease in the enforcement of minimum health standards, which could translate to a year-end active case tally of 18,000 across the country. She continued to remind the public that even if cases continue to decrease, the use of minimum health standards such as masks, physical distancing and getting vaccinated against Covid-19 remain the best defense against case increases due to the presence of emerging variants.