Philippines' worsening COVID-19 crisis due to 'leadership problem': Leachon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2021 10:44 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases core members prior to his talk to the people at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on March 8, 2021. Robinson Ninal, Presidential Photo

MANILA - The worsening COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines where daily infections have reached more than 9,000 in the past several days can be attributed to leaders' failed response to the crisis, a public health expert said Monday.

"This is about 80 percent leadership problem," Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the government's coronavirus task force, told ANC.

"This is all about leadership and if only we could do something about it and we're given this opportunity to correct the mistakes, I think we should actually step up on the plate right now considering the people are waiting for results," he added.

For Leachon, the country is worse now compared to last year.

"I think we are back to square one but worse than last year given that our problems are not only COVID but we also have non-COVID cases right now," he said.

He noted the rising positivity rate, record-high number of active cases and presence of more contagious coronavirus variants. 

Dozens of hospitals in Metro Manila, home to nearly 13 million people, have also reached "critical" level of bed occupancy for COVID-19 patients.

To rein in fresh infections, Leachon proposed a 2-week enhanced community quarantine, the strictest form of lockdown.

He also slammed Malacañang's recent pronouncement of that government had an "excellent" response to the COVID-19 crisis.

"If you say we are excellent in terms of our pandemic response, why are we on ECQ right now?" he said.

"Basically, that sends a wrong signal to the community because that will lead to even further non-compliance to the health protocols."

To date, the Philippines has logged over 720,000 coronavirus infections after a year into the pandemic. More than 13,000 people have succumbed to the disease.

Leachon has been at loggerheads with the government over its handling of the pandemic ever since COVID-19 started to spread from Wuhan, China.

In February, he called for the abolition of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases for allowing traditional cinemas to reopen. The body has “a bottleneck area for decisions not based on science,” he said in an interview.

Leachon also blasted presidential spokesperson Harry Roque for saying that Filipinos could not pick which brand of vaccine they would receive for free against COVID-19.

The task force said they removed Leachon as an adviser last year due to his "preemptive" releases of information.

But the physician said he was let go due to his differences with the Department of Health's policies, such as its lack of urgency and transparency in communication processes.

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