‘Virus fight not yet over’
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos must be reminded that while quarantine restrictions are being gradually lifted nationwide, the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not yet over, Sen. Bong Go said yesterday.

Go issued the statement as crowds surged in malls and other reopened establishments since the enhanced community quarantine started to ease on Friday as government starts reviving the economy battered by the pandemic.

“Let us not be complacent as while we still try to stop the first wave of (infections), it would be scarier if a second wave of spread of this disease comes,” the senator said in a statement in Filipino.

He warned that if people would not strictly follow health protocols, the crisis would be prolonged.

He reminded Filipinos to comply with precautionary measures like wearing masks, exercising proper hygiene like frequent handwashing and keeping surroundings clean, and social distancing.

“I understand our countrymen who are very eager to leave their homes. After around 60 days of community quarantine, they want to be free, move, breathe and see the sun without fear,” Go said.

He said the government is slowly opening up establishments to revive the economy but such should not be rushed as the country would suffer more if there will be a second wave of infections.

“Government resources are now exhausted. Dealing with the first wave was extremely difficult, we will not survive a second wave,” he said.

He said there is still no vaccine for COVID-19 and it remains uncertain when it would be ready for use, and how much it would cost.

“This is why I am urging everyone to work together to save our resources so that when the time comes that the vaccine is available, we will have enough funds for it,” the senator said.


Other senators also warned of a “tsunami” of new COVID-19 infections.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he does not believe the country is done with the first wave of COVID-19 infections.

“We haven’t tested much. The stats will speak for itself. But yes, I expect more infections without proper social distancing and non-wearing of masks,” Recto said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases “should reconsider their decision on the opening of malls and other similar establishments unless strict physical distancing and other protocols are observed.”

Sen. Nancy Binay said she was very worried that when the IATF declared some areas as general community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine, local government units and national agencies “are not even prepared, or even near in realizing the COVID-19 T3 (test, treat, track) strategy which is supposed to be already in a satisfactory operational level by this time.”

“So what they are saying as ‘second wave’, we all know that it’s not a question of if, but when. And if the hordes of people yesterday was any basis, well, don’t expect just a second wave – prepare for a tsunami!” Binay said.

 Sen. Joel Villanueva also expressed alarm over the crowd that turned out in establishments on the first day of transition from ECQ to MECQ or GCQ.

“If we continue with this practice, we will expect a surge of infection in the coming days. And we worry about capacity of our healthcare system. We have not done a significant upgrading of our healthcare facilities to warrant the capacity to respond to a surge of infection,” Villanueva said.

“Our government must carefully scrutinize any policy proposal brought forth by stakeholders. We are walking on eggshells here. Yes, we have to restore some economic activities but we have to make sure that protocols and proper monitoring are in place and our healthcare system upgraded. We haven’t seen those,” he said.

Sen. Sonny Angara also warned that if the country is not careful, “we could have the second wave that has occurred in several countries when they lift or relax their lockdowns.”

“It’s important for authorities, not just government, but also civilian authorities to enforce social distancing,” Angara said.

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