Public urged to add protection vs Delta variant

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) – A health official on Friday advised the public to consider wearing an extra mask as one of the precautions against the feared Delta variant.

"Effective parin ang ating paggamit ng mask...Kailangan talaga i-prevent ang transmission at saka magcomply tayo sa minimum public health standards lalong lalo na ang mask," Treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Ngayon.

[Translation: Mask use is still effective. We have to prevent the transmission and comply with minimum public health standards, especially wearing masks.]

"Kung meron kang (If you have) added protection like face shield or double mask, mas maigi (then better)," he added.

The health official also urged people to stay away from "superspreader" or crowded events like parties, and get vaccinated.

For its part, the government has increased the capacity of local hospitals to care for severe COVID-19 cases as it prepares for a "worst-case scenario" due to the highly contagious Delta variant, according to Vega.

"Pinadamihan natin ang number of intensive care units kasi ito yung importante na magkaroon talaga ng intensive care capacity ang mga level 3 hospitals," he said.

[Translation: We increased the number of intensive care units because level 3 hospitals must really have intensive care capacity.]

"From April, meron kaming 700 plus, ngayon merong 1,123 intensive care units na kami. Magbubukas pa rin kami ng modular hospitals," the Treatment czar added.

[Translation: From April, we had 700 plus, now we have 1,123 intensive care units. We will also open modular hospitals.]

Preparations are also underway at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the country's largest COVID-19 referral facility, as it anticipates a possible surge driven by the Delta variant. 

PGH Spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario told CNN Philippines they are already working on improving their facilities, upgrading COVID-19 wards, beefing up medical supplies like oxygen tanks, and encouraging more of their workers to get vaccinated.

Del Rosario added that a 40-bed capacity isolation facility and a new emergency room will soon be opened at the PGH.

There are now 47 Delta cases in the country, with 23 of them locally acquired, according to the Department of Health. Three resulted in deaths.

READ: PH confirms local transmission of Delta variant 

Some of the local cases were from Metro Manila.

Independent research group OCTA recently observed an increase in new infections in the National Capital Region, and Vega said Delta may be the culprit.

RELATED: OCTA: Manila, Valenzuela showing faster transmission among NCR cities

"Pwede iyan...Mayroong uptick ng kaunti ang new cases natin. Although hindi natin masabi kung sa Delta variant ito, pero presume natin ito na iyon," he said when asked if Delta triggered the rise in cases in Metro Manila.

[Translation: That is possible. There is a slight uptick in our cases. Although we cannot exactly say if it is because of the Delta variant, let's presume that is the case.]

But Vega noted Metro Manila's COVID-19 situation is still "manageable."