WHO: Worst may be over for PH, but be wary still


The World Health Organization (WHO) said the worst may now be over for the Philippines and it supports government’s move to reopen its borders and relax quarantine protocols as long as it continues to implement measures to reduce COVID-19 risk.

Rajendra Yadav, acting Philippine representative of the WHO, said the decreasing trend in the country’s COVID-19 cases was “really very encouraging,” and noted that there were relatively few deaths and health care utilization rate was stable.

“So for now we can say worst is over, but that’s only for now, because we do not know how long this current favorable situation will last. We need to hope for the best but remain prepared for the worst,” Yadav said at the Laging Handa briefing.

He also said the WHO backs the government’s efforts to chart its way out of the pandemic by relaxing restrictions it had previously imposed.

“The WHO continues to support the government in all its efforts. As long as we take care of the three things that we know work best, then opening up borders and relaxing the quarantine protocols are fine,” he said.

These three things are having enough vaccines, oxygen, and antiviral drugs; continuing to implement public health and social measures, such as maintaining physical distance, wearing well-fitting masks, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, cleaning hands and following respiratory hygiene; and restoring and sustaining essential health services disrupted by the pandemic, he said.

The WHO is in favor of allowing travel while making it less risky, and Yadav warned that blanket travel bans could “give a false sense of security and destroy economies.”

“We encourage de-risking travel, which means that we have to take necessary steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection during the travel and after the travel,” he said.

But he said easing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements does not mean people should travel anytime and anywhere they want.

They should travel only when necessary and keep their travels as small as possible, he said.

By: Leila B. Salaverria