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2021 will be a year of recovery from the epidemic, according to the Department of Health.

The Department of Health (DOH) has designated 2021 as the year of recovery from the current pandemic, based on lessons learned from the coronavirus illness in 2020 when the country and the rest of the globe were caught off guard (Covid-19).

It was also the year that Filipinos saw hope and an end to the pandemic with the arrival of life-saving doses in February, thanks to a Chinese government donation of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine.

In March, the shots were given to medical front-line workers, followed by the most vulnerable demographic, such as older residents and people with comorbidities.

Soon after, more Filipinos became eligible for the vaccinations, and booster shots became available in November as more vaccines arrived.

The country was only marginally affected by the previous year’s holiday festivities in the first quarter of the year, with new daily cases averaging 1,700, just 400 more than in December 2021.

Cases began to rise in the first week of March when the daily average of reported infections surpassed 3,000.

The government stepped up its response by establishing extra laboratories to test people for Covid-19 and establishing more quarantine facilities, among other things.

More patients were detected, isolated, treated, and reintegrated into the community after they had fully recovered from the disease, according to the DOH.

While the government began vaccinations in March and only a few vaccine doses have arrived, the country was preparing for the arrival of the Alpha variety, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, and the Beta variation, which originated in South Africa. These two varieties were only a matter of time until they were discovered. The number of new cases grew as a result of Alpha and Beta, peaking at 15,310 on April 2.

With the right execution of minimum public health standards and lockdowns by local government entities, daily illnesses were reduced to less than 10,000 from May to July.

When the more contagious Delta strain from India arrived in the country, daily reported cases rose in August and September, reaching a new high on September 11 with 26,303 new infections and 185,706 active infections.

The country began registering less than 300 new cases each day in the middle of December, and by the end of the month, it had the lowest single-day infection total of the year, at 168, excluding data from 24 laboratories that may have been impacted by Typhoon Odette.

On the last day of 2021, the DOH reported 2,961 new cases, 16 days after confirming the presence of the highly contagious Omicron strain in the country.

To date, there have been four Omicron variant cases in the United States, including 8,452 Delta variant cases, 3,169 Alpha variant cases, and 3,630 Beta variant cases.

On December 28, in his report to President Rodrigo Duterte, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque emphasized to the public the importance of strict adherence to testing and quarantine protocols, particularly among international travelers, in order to prevent the Omicron variant from spreading further in the community.

As part of active biosurveillance, Duque also requested testing laboratories to report positive samples for whole-genome sequencing as soon as possible.

“Para matukoy natin kung mayroon na bang local transmission or local instances ng Omicron variant at lalong-lalo na sa mga lugar kung saan nakakakita na tayo nang pagtaas ng mga kaso,” he said.

Before being referred to isolation or quarantine facilities, he further asked all local government entities to conduct urgent aggressive case-finding and third-generation contact tracing.

Vaccination at the national level

Since the government began its national immunization program in March, moreover 107 million vaccine doses of Covid-19 vaccinations have been administered, with at least 48.64 million people fully vaccinated.

Approximately 57.01 million people have gotten their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with 1.61 million receiving booster doses.

Previously, the government set a goal of fully vaccinating 54 million Filipinos by the end of 2021 to prevent a surge of Covid-19 infections in the country.

Other types of medical help

While the number of daily cases reported increased in the last week of 2021, Duque stated that the national use rate of healthcare systems maintains low risk.

“We have a bed utilization rate of 17%, an ICU bed utilization rate of 18%, and a mechanical ventilator utilization rate of 10%,” he stated.

Duque told the public that the department and the One Hospital Command Center will work with hospitals to provide Covid-19 beds, mechanical ventilators, oxygen supply, and telemedicine in the event of an Omicron variant threat.

“Kasama po ang mga antiviral medications, katulad po ng mga Paxlovid at saka ito pong Molnupiravir, ang Tocilizumab, ang Baricitinib, at ang Remdesivir at mga iba pang mga gamot para makapagsalba po ng mga buhay ng mga naapektuhan ng

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