The Department of Health (DoH) is investigating why more younger people are getting sick and dying from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) amid reports of increasing deaths in the country.

RACE AGAINST TIME Ambulances navigate a road in Mandaluyong City on April 7, 2021 as the city grapples with a skyrocketing number of Covid-19 cases. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said most of the virus cases come from the 20- to 49-year-old age group, which had a higher chance of dying from the virus.

“Looking at that aspect, there are more younger people that are having severe infections than before, so we are looking at this matter,” Vergeire told reporters in a media briefing.
She added that the younger age group are the ones who continue to work in offices every day.

This development prompted Health officials to discuss with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases what industries can adopt work-from-home alternatives to decrease mobility in the region.

The task force is also evaluating which sectors can be included in the vaccine priority group A-4 or those listed under “Frontline economic workers.”

Dr. Minette Claire Rosario, infectious diseases expert and part of the country’s National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, said the lax enforcement of health protocols as well as the presence of Covid-19 variants could be among the reasons why more young people are falling ill.

“Iyong pagkakaroon po ng parang mas batang populasyon na naapektuhan ngayon, pareho lang din iyong mga naging dahilan nagpawalang-bisa na po doon sa minimum public health standard na sinasabi natin, nagsipasukan na. Hindi nagsuot ng tamang pagsusuot ng face mask, face shield, hindi nagdidistansiya — halo-halo na po ito (The reason why the younger population is getting infected, the reasons remain the same. There were lapses in the minimum public health standards, such as not wearing face masks, shields and not observing physical distancing while going to work), “ Rosario said during a televised briefing.

OCTA Research Senior Fellow Dr. Guido David said even minors below 15 years old are getting sick with Covid-19, and most of them from home transmissions.

“The fact [that] they are getting infected this shows the change in the trend and that is why there are more cases now is because minors are getting infected,” David told The Manila Times in an online interview.

He admitted that this could also be caused by the prevalence of the more infectious variants of concern in the country, such as the B117 and the B1351 variants first found in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

According to OCTA Research, the reproduction number in the National Capital Region (NCR) declined slightly to 1.43 from March 31 to April 6, but despite these decreases in the reproduction number and growth rate, cases in the region continue to increase.

In its latest report, negative growth rates were observed in the cities of Pasay, Marikina, Makati, Manila, Navotas, Taguig and Mandaluyong.

David said the earlier imposed granular lockdowns, in conjunction with the implementation of the so-called NCR Plus bubble and the enhanced community quarantine helped lower the cases in these cities.

“I believe all those efforts were not in vain; lahat sila nag-contribute sa pag slow down ng trend. Iba’t iba ‘yung effects, and we are seeing negative growth rates (they have contributed in the slowdown of the trend. Despite different effects, we are seeing negative growth rates),” David said.

On Wednesday, the Health department reported 6,414 new cases of Covid-19, pushing the total active cases to 158,701 and overall cases to 819,164.





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