DOH on ‘corona’ response: Okay, but not fantastic
Daily Tribune (Philippines), Philippines, 6 October 2020, https://www.pressreader.com/article/282445646513969
Entering into its eighth month in the pandemic, one of the leading officials in the response said on Monday that the government is doing ‘okay’ though not ‘fantastic’ in its general COVID-19 response.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the Philippines is now faring better in its efforts with an observed downtrend of cases.
“We’re heading towards the right direction,” he said in a television interview.
He said that among the factors which contributed to these gains include the decrease in the death rate as the recovery rate continues to rise.
At present he said that although the Philippines is part of the top 20 countries in the world with the most number of cases, it still has the lowest death rate in the Southeast Asian region.
However, Duque also took into account that even though experts said that the current situation is improving, more is still needed to be done in order to further decrease the new cases reported.
We’re heading towards the right direction.
“According to the OCTA (research team), there’s been a flattening of the curve but it’s at the rather not at the very low point, it’s still (at the) instability point (na) medyo mataas pa rin. Bumababa sya...though not yet to a level that is significant,” he said.
He pointed out that the improvements reported have been utilized by the government as an opportunity to improve the health system capacity after it was decongested from the twoweek lockdown.
Latest DOH data showed that nationwide the rate of available beds in the critical care units range from 54 to 59 percent while ventilators are at 79 percent.
Metro Manila, on the other hand, has 47 to 49 percent unoccupied units with 70 percent available ventilators.
“We are able to take advantage of that window of opportunity to increase our health system capacity, decrease our critical care utilization rate and we want to decrease that because we want to be prepared for future surge of COVID cases.
Nonetheless, Duque said that more than the ‘flattening of the curve,’ it is better to achieve a continuous descending shift in the additional cases reported especially that the virus may stay for a long while.
“We would like a downward trajectory rather than the flattening of the curve. We would like to just remember this virus is going to stay with us, let’s not deceive ourselves we’re not going for the zero COVID cases,” he said.
“The two very important goals are to manage the case transmission, we have to continue to crush the cluster, reduce the transmission, reduce deaths, and increase health capacity,” he added.
He noted that the national government is eyeing to improve its responses by achieving a 90 to 95 percent recovery rate in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the health secretary disagreed with Vice President Leni Robredo on the pronouncement that the DOH and other officials are in ‘a state of denial’ in handling the pandemic.
Duque stressed that since the onset, they have been openly providing the public on all aspects with its complete data.
“We’ve been very transparent. We have been showing our data everyday, we have done so much in terms of disclosures of all these very important information,” he said.
But he also admitted that there were ‘lessons to be learned’ as the country reported its first COVID-19 infection in the last week of January.
The Philippines reported its initial cases of COVID-19 that came from three Chinese travellers who despite it and the fact that Wuhan — the epicenter of the virus — recorded cases in December was still deemed as not a reason to ban Chinese tourists.