DOH on ‘corona’ re­sponse: Okay, but not fan­tas­tic

Daily Tri­bune (Philip­pines), Philip­pines, 6 Oc­to­ber 2020, https://www.pressreade­­ti­cle/2824456465­13969

COVID-19 News - - News -

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.

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