US CDC: Philippines now at 'high' travel risk for COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 16)— The Philippines is now classified by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) as "high risk" for COVID-19 due to a spike in new infections.

The Philippines was placed on Level 3 or high level of COVID-19 on Tuesday, local time. The designation applies to places that had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

The US CDC recommends avoiding travel to the Philippines if the person is not up to date with vaccination.

Level 3 became the top rung in terms of risk level in April after the US CDC overhauled its ratings system for assessing COVID-19 risk for travelers.

Level 4 is now reserved for "special circumstances," including extremely high case counts or collapse of healthcare system.

For its part, the Department of Health noted that the US and the Philippines use different metrics to classify a place as high risk.

“Sa CDC ang ginagamit nila ay yung incidence rate triangulated with the testing data. Dito po sa ating bansa, ito pong number of cases ay hindi na po natin binibigyan ng equal weight with our healthcare utilization,” said DOH Officer-in-Charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire in a press briefing.

[Translation: In CDC, what they use is the incidence rate triangulated with the testing data. In our country, we don’t give the number of cases equal weight with our healthcare utilization.]

“Ang atin pong severe and critical infection remains to be at that low number less than 1,000. And atin pong mga naad-admit ay manageable at nape-preserve pa rin natin ang ating healthcare system capacity,” she added.

[Translation: Our severe and critical infection remains to be at low number, less than 1,000. Our hospital admission is manageable and we are able to preserve our healthcare system capacity.]

The DOH on Monday said the country records almost 4,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, noting a continuous increase in new infections on a national scale.

Vergeire said daily reported infections averaged 3,993 from Aug. 3 to 9, 12% more than the average of the previous week.

Despite the steady growth in new cases, the DOH said the Philippines remains at low risk for COVID-19 considering the two-week growth rate, average daily attack rate, and hospital utilization rate.