Had the Philippine government not acted as it did at the start of the first reported local transmissions of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), there would have been more cases and deaths than what we have now, according to the Palace.
In his press briefing with the Malacañan Press Corps on Monday, June 29, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr said that though the government’s response may not be perfect, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte “did the very best that he can and we are in control of the situation.”
The Palace official referred to an initial study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) that projected what will be the COVID-19 situation in the country if no interventions were done.
“Ang sabi po ng UP, kung wala po tayong lockdown na ginawa eh ngayon po meron na tayo sanang 3.6 million cases ng COVID, 3.6 million! Saan po nagkulang ang Presidente? Ano pa po ang dapat ginawa nya? Naiwasan po ang 3.6 million cases ng COVID,” stressed Secretary Roque.
The Palace spokesman further underscored government’s action in controlling the spread of the disease. He said that though the government cannot truly slow down the spread of the disease without a cure or vaccine, what is important now is that we have the capacity to provide medical care to those who will get sick with COVID-19.
“Ibig sabihin, talaga pong nais natin bawasan ang mga kaso ng COVID, pero yun nga po wala pang gamot, so dadami’t-dadami yan. Ang gusto natin magkaroon tayo ng panahon para mas magkaroon ng mas maraming hospital na magbibigay lunas sa mga magkakasakit, magkaroon ng mga isolation units, magkaroon ng critical care capacity, yung mga ICU beds, at mga mechanical ventilators,” said Sec. Roque.
He further underscored the gains that were achieved because of the early implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in many areas of the country. Referring to latest data from the Department of Health (DOH), Secretary Roque said that because of the implementation of ECQ, the government had enough time to prepare isolation and temporary treatment and monitoring facilities for COVID-19, thereby strengthening the country’s critical care capacity.
Current DOH data show that daily actual tests continue to increase while the positivity rate is steady at around six percent. Testing for COVID-19 has increased from 2,500 daily tests in April to around 15,000 daily tests, currently, said Sec Roque. In terms of critical care utilization, there are only three regions that are in moderate risk: CALABARZON, Central Visayas, and Metro Manila, with only Central Visayas nearing the high risk level.
“Kaya ang solusyon po para sa Cebu magpadala ng mas maraming doktor at nagpadala na po ang hukbong sandatahan natin, mas maraming nurses, mas maraming ventilators,” said Roque.
On whether the government should be more conservative in opening up the economy, Secretary Roque said: “Palagi po nating binabalanse yung kalusugan sa karapatan na magkaroon naman ng hanap-buhay. Ang tinitingnan po natin case doubling rate, critical care capacity, alam po natin na kung hindi natin mapigil yung pagdami ng numero, siguraduhin lang natin na meron tayong sapat na kakayahan para bigyan ng assistance yung mga magkakasakit lalo na yung magiging kritikal.”
Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, in the same media briefing, agreed with Secretary Roque that the country is winning the fight against COVID-19. Secretary Galvez said that the country is winning in terms of the T3 (test, trace, treat) threshold citing that the current positivity rate is below six percent, which is below the threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the WHO, if a country’s positivity rate is below seven to 10 percent, the COVID-19 situation is improving, said Sec. Galvez.
Dr. Minguita Padilla, of Project Ark – private sector initiative, who was also a resource person in the said media briefing, said that data from the LGUs where they have conducted mass rapid testing, show that 91-92 percent of those tested had negative results. Dr Padilla said that this means that whatever the government did was effective to prevent more infection, because their data show that the country’s COVID-9 incidence or prevalence is really low, with only a very small percentage of people tested having positive test results. OPS-PCOO