Malacañang reveals reason COVID-19 cases are surging

COVID-19 response a failure?

Malacañang has admitted that the Department of Health “should have been clearer” about the guidelines for the quarantine process of COVID-19 patients. This mistake eventually helped spread the disease.

“I think hindi naging malinaw kasi ‘yung sinabi ng DOH that asymptomatic and the mild [cases] can stay home. Hindi nila nilinaw na you must have your own room and bathroom,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque told reporters.

“Sa tingin ko, isa sa mga dahilan ito kaya tumaas ang numero natin. But we’re rectifying it now. We have fully intensified our testing,” he added.

Authorities have said that those who are to be quarantined shouldn’t do it with senior citizens, pregnant women, or those suffering from comorbidities who are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.

The Oplan Kalinga program has been launched by the inter-agency task force recently which seeks to have patients who have unsuitable homes for quarantining be transferred to isolation facilities.

“Nakikita natin na wala pang two weeks na in-announce natin itong Oplan Kalinga, napupuno na iyong ating isolation centers. Ganoon kadami ang nakikita nating positive because of intensified testing daily,” Roque said.

“I have to recognize that the DOH perhaps should have been clearer at the onset na stay at home if you have your own room and you have your own bathroom,” he said.

Cases of coronavirus saw a significant increase after quarantine measures were relaxed in Metro Manila in an effort by the government for an economic recovery.

The first two confirmed cases in the country were a Chinese couple, followed by another Chinese national but the government didn’t take it that seriously.

Eventually, the virus spread nationwide causing panic. The DOH later realized that COVID positive patients shouldn’t have been quarantined with healthy family members.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire refuted Roque’s remarks saying that there are now 91 testing facilities in the country, a major improvement from when the country still had to send swab samples of positive patients to Australia.

“Noong Enero, kinakailangan pa nating magpadala ng samples patungong Australia para lamang po makumpirma ang kaso ng COVID-19.  Noon, RITM pa lang po ang may kakayahang mag-test ng COVID-19,” Vergeire said during DOH’s daily briefing on the COVID-19 crisis.

“Ngayon meron na po tayong 91 na laboratories na may kakayahang magtest ng COVID-19 sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng bansa,” she added.

Vergeire also points out that the Philippines can now test at least 24,000 samples in one day which is also a huge jump from being only able to do 300 back in March.

Further, Vergeire also mentioned that the number of people who turn out positive per 100 tests is only at 8.6 percent.

“Noong buwan ng April, nakapagtala po tayo ng 22.2 percent na positivity rate […] Ngayon, nakapagtala na lang po tayo ng 8.6 percent positivity rate, halos 14 points ang nabawas,” Vergeire stressed.

“Noong Marso, 300 test lamang po ang kapasidad ng ating mga laboratoryo, ngayon kaya po na nating magsagawa ng 24,000-plus tests per day. Mahigit isang milyong na ring mga test para sa COVID-19, ang goal po natin ay umabot sa 1.5 million tests sa katapusan po ng buwan ng Hulyo,” she added.

The DOH is doing their best and blames the surge of cases on the relaxation of quarantine restrictions.

“[…] Nakagawa ng karampatang aksyon ang Kagawaran ng Kalusugan sa pamamagitan ng patuloy na pagdagdag ng healthcare workforce, pagdagdag po ng testing, at pagra-ramp up ng testing capacity, paggawa po ng mga temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, pagbibigay ng PPEs,” Vergeire asserted.

“Dahil po sa patuloy na pagluwag ng community restrictions, makikita po natin na talagang tumataas ang kaso.  Kaya naman po inaanyayahan namin ang publiko na gawin pa rin ang minimum health standards,” she added.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Senator Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases failed in handling tasks as it is very possible that the country would hit 85,000 cases and 2,000 deaths come end of July, as predicted by a team of researchers from the University of the Philippines (UP).

Former UP Diliman chancellor Michael Tan gave the government an “F” or “falfak” in regards to handling problems brought by COVID-19, a week before the president delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles thought it just wouldn’t be fair to assume the government has failed. Roque also said that the UP experts might possibly join IATF to provide more help to the government.

Written by Charles Teves

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