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Once more with feeling!

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2021 - 12:00am

Duterte and his clueless minions on top of our COVID response is getting a second chance to redeem themselves. But it is not looking good.

One year after the COVID epidemic was declared here, we find ourselves in a worse situation. The number of cases is at record high and NCR hospitals are swamped. Cases are being sent to hospitals in Laguna and Pampanga.

Government officials are telling us we are not alone and should take consolation that France and other EU countries are in a similar desperate situation. That’s consuelo de bobo as I explained in a previous column and does us no good.

Our neighboring countries seem to have recovered and we should be comparing our government’s performance with theirs. What did they do that we didn’t do? Then, let us do what they did.

The EU countries were like us in allowing the bureaucrats to dither on vaccine supply, focusing on method rather than outcomes… not a good role model.

Of course, we are gripped in sadness for all the deaths of friends and loved ones, frantic about where to bring our sick with the NCR hospitals declaring full occupancy, frustrated and angry about the Duterte administration’s inability to reassure us that they know what they are doing.

Can Duque, Galvez and company deliver this time? Once more with feeling? Nah! They will blame everyone and anything except their own failures that are so obvious.

According to Dr. Anthony Leachon, who had been closely observing the pandemic from the start, we breached 15,000 daily cases because ECQ was declared  two to four weeks late. We are doing only 30,000 tests a day when we should be at 100,000; contact tracing is absent; no satellite clinics were built, and no command center for COVID and non-COVID cases.

Duterte apologists are saying they shouldn’t be blamed for this terrible upsurge of cases. They are blaming the variants that were more infectious. They said they were not expecting this to happen.

Then again, if we had adequate testing and contact tracing, those variants would have been detected earlier and dealt with.

DOH cannot validly claim being taken by surprise as Duque claims. OCTA had been warning for weeks that the number of cases will balloon. Even I thought OCTA was exaggerating, but they were proven right.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who is also supposed to be national contact tracing czar, admitted that the contact tracing system in the Philippines has failed, contributing to the surge in COVID-19 cases. He told an online hearing of the House Committee on Health that the national contact tracing efficiency ratio had decreased to 1:3.

In Metro Manila, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, Magalong said the patient to close contacts ratio was at 1:5 from Feb. 28 to March 14 then decreased to 1:3 from March 15 to 29. If a typical family is from five to seven members, the contract tracers of DILG aren’t even covering family members.

The most graphic and scary presentation of how bad the COVID pandemic is in Metro Manila is a map prepared a team of mappers and researchers from the UP Resilience Institute and the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team. They used data from the Department of Health, local government units in NCR, and Facebook population dataset for the appropriate location randomization.

This randomized dot map (one dot = one case) shows the comparison in the number of active COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region between March 8 and 29. There was a worrying smattering of red dots on the March 8 map, but the March 29 map is almost solid red. See original post here: https://bit.ly/3fDO71j

Edson Guido of the ABS-CBN News analytics team crunched the numbers and it seems the worst is yet to come. Here are Guido’s numbers:

The Philippines breached 800,000 total COVID-19 cases last Monday April 5. Actual number: 803,398.

It took 51 days for cases to increase from 500,000 to 600,000; 17 days to go from 600,000 to 700,000 and just 10 days for cases to rise from 700,000 to 800,000.

At this current pace, Guido explains, we will hit one million total cases before the end of the month.

As for testing, Guido reports that “the average number of tests in the past week is 47,696, lower compared to 52,035 the week before. Testing peaked at nearly 59,000 on March 23, but the latest figure on April 3 was just 33,077…”

Guido is also worried about the high positivity rate in the country, which has reached 25 percent. It means one in every four persons tested for COVID-19 turned out positive. The World Health Organization recommends a five percent positivity rate, an indicator that the spread of the virus is under control.

Guido also noted the Department of Health’s “inconsistent” reporting on hospital bed occupancy. On Sunday, the DOH reported that 78 percent of intensive care unit beds in NCR were filled, 70 percent of isolation beds were utilized, and 60 percent of ward beds were occupied. Some 60 percent of ventilators were also in use.

But the reports on the ground say (bed occupancy)in Metro Manila is full and (patients) were brought to provincial hospitals.

Dr. Leachon captured the general sentiment of a lot of people on where we are in this pandemic:

“Don’t think this crisis will be solved with the same people with the same thinking process. There’s no scorecard, accountability, and recognition of the problem. That’s why we are again in ECQ with an overwhelmed healthcare system!”

Right now, it looks like the Duterte officials are pretty much playing it by ear. People are very scared of the virus and giving up on the Duterte officials.

This is why people are hanging on to an anti-parasitic drug that has not been vetted for COVID and only licensed here for veterinary use. Without the vaccines, people think they can take their chances on Ivermectine. Kapit sa patalim! Kawawa talaga tayo!

 

 

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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