Carlito Galvez Jr.
Retired military general Carlito Galvez Jr. is the presidential adviser on the peace process. He was appointed as chief implementer of the government's response to the COVID-19 health crisis in March 2020.
OPAPP/Released, file

Galvez says task force 'recalibrating' COVID-19 response, highlights tighter quarantine enforcement

(Philstar.com) - August 13, 2020 - 6:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — The National Task Force against COVID-19 is "recalibrating its" strategies to better address the crisis, its chief implementer said Thursday, saying government is responding to calls, particularly from medical workers, to review the country's response to the pandemic.

At a Palace press briefing, NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr, a retired military general, said that the task force was now focusing on preventing local transmissions after learning from its mistakes, particularly in Metro Cebu. 

"We have already corrected our lapses and the comments and suggestions from the healthcare workers and medical professionals, really, we take into considerations...we're recalibrating our strategy," Galvez said in a mix of Filipino and English.

He did not mention what lapses these were on the part of government strategy and instead highlighted quarantine violations.

"During the GCQ, as we opened our economy, I believe there were also many violations [of health protocols] in workplaces that led to contaminations in some areas of workplaces such as canteen, shuttle services, and in the smoking areas. As we see that, we are now correcting the mistakes and lapses in the past [execution of health protocols]," he said.

Medical professionals and healthcare workers' groups in early August had called for a 'timeout' in the pandemic response and urged the government to recalibrate its response to the pandemic, outlining in a manifesto a number of pressing concerns, including failure of contact tracing and quarantine, transportation safety, workplace safety, public compliance with self-protection, and lapses in social amelioration distribution.

A week into the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, mass transportation for workers is still lacking and police officers are still being deployed to set up quarantine checkpoints.

A call for more financial aid for those affected by quarantine is still pending in Congress.

As a result, healthcare groups have been repeating their calls as cases continue to spike amid the modified enhanced community quarantine that was supposed to be a time-out for frontliners.

READ: Has pandemic response been recalibrated or is MECQ a repeat of the same policies?

"About 1,900 individuals have been subjected to home quarantine in Cebu, yet when we implemented strict isolation rules, we have seen a vast improvement on the crisis situation. The cases have decreased as well as the fatality rate," Galvez said. 

"We are also buying supplies of high flow cannula, a treatment therapy used for severe and critical patients so that they will not undergo intubation anymore. We are now coordinating with other pharmaceutical companies to improve the supply chain of our testing facilities and other consumables," he also said.

At the same Palace briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claimed that the government has always been transparent about its lapses in handling the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Right now, it looks like we are no longer in the danger zone...as long as there is political will on the part of the president, we will be able to see improvements," he said. 

"There is no disparity between reality and what people perceive...it is not severe." — Franco Luna

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