By Darryl John Esguerra

(File photo)

MANILA – Although the country remains at low risk for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday advised the public to observe minimum public health standards amid reports of new variants being monitored abroad.

Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said he would not recommend travel restrictions amid the reported increase in Covid-19 cases in Singapore due to the FLiRT variants but would advise the public to observe proper cough etiquette, avoid crowded places, frequent hand washing, and encourage wearing of face mask.

“I’m not thinking border control, mandatory mask – I’m not thinking that. But I’m advising every Filipino, since that is happening, that can come here, (observe our) minimum public health standards,” Herbosa said in a Palace media briefing.

“If you are sick, you have cough, colds, sore throat, better to stay home. If you need to go out, wear a mask. So, it’s still personal.”

However, the health chief assured that they are closely monitoring the developments both here and abroad.

The Singaporean government recently said it is tracking a new wave of Covid-19 infections after its estimated count of weekly cases nearly doubled from May 5 to 11 with 25,900 cases, compared to 13,700 cases in the preceding period.

In the Philippines, Herbosa said a private hospital reported a spike in Covid-19 cases among their medical staff.

Despite this, he said, data from the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau showed that Covid-19 utilization rate for hospitals is “still very low.”

“Hindi pa tayo tumataas (It has not yet spiked). Although, I’m watching the events unfold in Singapore because I think Singapore has reported an increase in FLiRT,” he said. “It’s a variant under monitoring. Hindi siya (It’s not a) variant of concern, variant under monitoring. And tumataas sila doon (they are experiencing a surge there). They reported an increase in cases, and it’s filling up their hospitals. So, we are watching ours.” (PNA)