While a vaccine against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has yet to be developed, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go stressed the importance of strict enforcement of measures and proper compliance as “crucial” in curbing the deadly disease.
Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, made this remark after data from World Health Organization (WHO) showed that the Philippines has the fastest-growing number of new Covid-19 cases among over 22 countries in Western Pacific Region.
“Wala pang bakuna at gamot sa sakit na ito (There is still no vaccine for this disease). That is why strict enforcement of existing measures and proper compliance of everyone are very crucial,” he said in a statement.
He said the only way to slow down the rate of Covid-19 infections in the country is to have people cooperate as the government works on improving its capacity to provide critical care to patients.
“Kung susunod po tayo sa mga patakaran at patuloy tayong magtutulungan para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng sakit, kung mas maisasaayos rin ang ating health facilities and capabilities — ito po ang mga tanging makakapagsabi kung kailan natin malalampasan at tuluyang matapos ang krisis na dulot ng Covid-19 (If we follow rules and help each other to avoid the spread of the virus, if we enhance our health facilities and capabilities—this is the only way we can determine if we will be able to overcome and end the crisis brought by Covid-19),” he said.
The senator from Davao City urged the government to beef up the Department of Health’s and the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) Project T3 (Test, Trace, Treat) which aims to expand national testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by the end of the month.
“Habang tumataas ang kaso ng Covid-19, mas tumataas rin dapat ang quarantine, contact tracing, at necessary treatment capabilities natin. (I will continue to urge the government to enhance its Test, Trace, and Treat strategy (While Covid-19 cases continue to increase, there should also be an increase in quarantine, contact tracing, and necessary treatment capabilities),” he said.
Meanwhile, he also pushed for the passage of the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One’ bill dubbed as the ‘Bayanihan II’, vowing to support necessary legislative measures that can address the public’s most immediate needs.
“We need to immediately pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill. Hanapan dapat ng paraan na mapondohan ang mga programang kinakailangan upang maitigil na ang pagkalat ng sakit, mailigtas ang mga naghihirap na Pilipino, at makabangon muli ang ekonomiya ng bansa. (We will look for ways to fund the programs needed to stop the spread of the disease, save poor Filipinos, and helping the economy recover),” he said.
He said the government will always prioritize people’s health over anything else.
“Sa anumang mga hakbang na gagawin ng gobyerno at pati ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan, palagi nating unahin ang buhay at kapakanan ng kapwa nating Pilipino (Whatever steps the government and its people take, we will also prioritize the life of our fellow Filipinos),” he said.
Data from the WHO showed that the country recorded 8,143 coronavirus cases since June 16, the highest among 22 countries in the region. Singapore came in second with 2,351 new cases during the same period, while China, where the Covid-10 originated, had 302.
The Department of Health (DOH), however, said the Philippines should not be compared to other countries with different socioeconomic context like population, living conditions, and health system capacity.
“Our socioeconomic context, particularly living conditions, as well as health system capacity, even prior to Covid, is different from Singapore. Please take that into account when we do our analysis. Let us not cherry pick the countries we want to compare ourselves to,” DOH said in a statement.
DOH explained that Singapore has a population of only 5.9 million, with a total number of cases of 43,246 while the Philippines has a population of 109 million with 34,803 total cases, as of Sunday.
“Per 1 million people, Singapore has a higher case at 7,393 cases per 1 million population compared with Philippines at 318 cases per 1 million population,” it added.
The agency said it is currently addressing the rising critical care utilization through augmentation of equipment and workforce and ensuring it can manage possible surge of cases.
The DOH also emphasized the implementation of minimum health standards such as wearing of masks and physical distancing, as the most effective preventive measure in the absence of a vaccine. (Azer Parrocha, PNA)