THE Department of Health (DOH) has assured that there is enough supplies of anti-flu pills amid reports of alleged shortage of such medicines.
In a statement, the DOH said it already consulted with the major drug store chains and local manufacturers and suppliers on the status of supply of paracetamol and other pills for flu.
“The DOH would like to assure the public that while there is an observed increased demand for such products, there is no ongoing shortage in the Philippines. Paracetamol has many generic alternatives in the market, which are available in many drug stores nationwide. We are constantly monitoring the status of supply of critical medicines for COVID-19 including supportive medicines for symptomatic treatment,” the DOH said.
The DOH appealed to the public not to hoard these medicines and not resort to panic-buying as it vows to continue working with other agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the Food and Drug Administration in securing the needed health products as part of the COVID-19 response.
“We would like to appeal to consumers, however, to refrain from hoarding, panic-buying or unnecessary purchases of such medications when not clinically warranted,” the department said.
Netizens have raised concerns on social media about their difficulties to purchase paracetamol and other pills as these were out of stock in drug stores.
In a related development, the DOH said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country — on the rise again and believed to be triggered by the Omicron variant — could reach its peak by the end of January.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said this is based on the DOH’s initial projections on the current trend in daily infections.
Vergeire warned that the number would be more than the figures during the peak of the Delta variant last year.
“What I can give the public as an information right now would be that we did initial estimates, the assumption would be based on calculations that Omicron is eight times more transmissible than Delta and that the peak will happen by the end of January,” she said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said Omicron may already be responsible for the sharp increase of COVID-19 infections in the previous days.
Vergeire said it could already be assumed that there is already local transmission of the highly transmissible variant.
The DOH earlier reported 10 additional Omicron cases, bringing the total Omicron caseload in the country to 14. Three were local cases — two in Bicol and one in the National Capital Region.
“The assumption is there because for us to be able to declare that there’s local transmission, we need definitive evidence and we need this confirmation coming from Philippine Genome Center through whole genome sequencing,” she said.
When it comes to testing, Vergeire said ideally, 100,000 tests should be done per day. She said the number of testings has already increased in Metro Manila although there is still low output in other regions.
There have been calls for the government to conduct free mass testing in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Vergeire said those eligible for free testing are those who are symptomatic or those who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient.
The Philippines recorded 4,084 additional COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the country’s total tally to 2,855,819.