Are we winning the battle against COVID-19 despite the rising COVID cases? Yes, of course. We can see that we are able to manage, especially the number of deaths,” Secretary Eduardo Año said when asked if the country has been able to address the pandemic which has crippled many industries and rendered millions of Filipinos jobless.
Michael Varcas
Año cites significant strides in fight vs COVID-19
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — With community quarantine going into the fourth month, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday expressed confidence that the country is making significant strides in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Are we winning the battle against COVID-19 despite the rising COVID cases? Yes, of course. We can see that we are able to manage, especially the number of deaths,” Año said when asked if the country has been able to address the pandemic which has crippled many industries and rendered millions of Filipinos jobless.

He said every government around the globe has faced the hard challenges of the “unseen enemy.”

“You know, no country can ever say it’s already successful in the fight against COVID until a vaccine is found because this is always what you call... health and risk management,” he said.

“If you just look around, all over the world, we can see that the performance of the country is really doing good,” declared Año, co-chairman of the National Task Force against COVID-19.

He explained that the rise in the number of COVID positive cases is a result of the increase in the testing capacity of the country.

“But if you look at the positivity rate, we are now at six percent… probably up to seven. Our goal is to bring down the positivity rate to three percent and even one percent,” he said.

He cited South Korea where positivity rate has been pegged between one and three percent.

“That means you are really winning. No matter how many are being tested and relative to our population our positivity rate (is not increasing) and eventually we are also able to manage our severe and critical symptomatic patients, then we can see the various measures of success,” he explained in mixed Filipino and English.

Compared to other countries, Año said the Philippines has recorded 7.4 infected persons for every 100,000 population while in the United States, there are 368 infected persons per one million population – a far cry from the Philippines.

“For Brazil, it’s 127. So you can see the difference and we are able to manage the severe and critical (cases),” he said.

Due to the lockdown imposed by the government as early as March 15, “we are able to buy time to increase our testing capacities, build isolation facilities and healthcare capacities,” he added.

“So, we are really very, very ready now to fight the COVID more than ever,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Philippines has improved in addressing the pandemic compared to a few months ago.

Roque noted that the gradual resumption of businesses and the opening of the economy are being done with the reminder for everyone to follow the minimum health standards.

“As long as we follow the minimum health standards and strengthen safety initiatives, we can bring down  COVID-19 (cases),” he said, referring to the testing and treatment capacity of the government.

President Duterte and members of the Cabinet have agreed with the recommendations of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to reopen the economy, particularly in Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog, which are the prime movers of the country’s growth.

Roque agreed that COVID-19 remains a big challenge to hurdle for the Philippines and the rest of the world.

“Whatever little victory we can have, personally, I am happy. But I know we still have a huge problem and ultimately, there is a need to find a vaccine and treatment. But don’t deprive people like me who are happy that we did not reach the projected figure,” he said.

2nd lowest in a month

The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday recorded a total of 294 new cases of coronavirus disease, the second lowest in a month.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the number of COVID-19 patients in the country has increased to 38,805, including the 294 new cases.

Vergeire said the decline was due to the delay in the submission of line lists by testing laboratories.

Of the 72 licensed laboratories, only 58 or 81 percent have submitted the list of tests that they have conducted.

“The number of our reported cases is low and maybe this is because we have adjusted the time of extraction (of data) from the COVIDKAYA system,” she said.

From 24 hours’ worth of data, the DOH shortened this to only 19 hours as part of improvement of its reporting system.

Vergeire said this would allow the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau more time to do “in-depth analysis” of data.

Prior to this, the lowest case recorded was 244 on June 5.

Data showed that as of July 2, there were 1,274 deaths reported and 10,673 recoveries.

This developed as Rontgene Solante, head of San Lazaro Hospital’s adult infectious diseases and tropical medicine, denied rumors that two suspected COVID cases were “found dead” in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Solante said the two critically ill patients died from severe complications of possible COVID-19.

“They were not ‘found dead’ as rumored. The fact that they were in the ICU, they were closely (being) monitored,” he said.

Solante said the term “found dead” is a misnomer that the nurse on-duty used since the patients (were) “not clinically dead yet but were in severe critical stage to the point of unresponsiveness.”

Permanent quarantine facilities

The government should establish permanent quarantine facilities, at least in densely populated areas of the country, due to the constant emergence of contagious and infectious diseases, a lawmaker said yesterday.

The facilities needed for such are outlined in House Bill 7005 authored by Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte.

“These facilities are designed for patients who are suspected to be infected or colonized with epidemiologically important pathogens that can be transmitted easily by airborne or droplet transmission or by contact with dry skin or contaminated surfaces,” Vilafuerte said.

Under the proposed Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020, the DOH will be responsible for “the operation, supervision and management” of quarantine facilities.

Each location for every quarantine facility will be identified by the DOH, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways and local government units concerned.

The facility should be accessible to a DOH hospital and strategically located to ensure the safety of the community. Sheila Crisostomo, Delon Porcalla

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