MANILA—The Philippines' national COVID-19 response took "10 steps backwards" after strict quarantine measures were imposed in the NCR Plus region, a group said Tuesday, but without improving mass testing and the infrastructure in place.
President Rodrigo Duterte had placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine from Monday to Easter Sunday to curb the rising number of virus cases.
The lockdown would be ineffective, though, if government mass testing and measures to cushion its economic impact are not carried out, according to the Citizens Urgent Response to End (CURE) COVID-19.
"For CURE COVID hindi lang siya replay, it’s a step backwards. Sabi nga ng isang doctor na kakilala namin, 10 hakbang palikod pa kesa dati," CURE COVID-19 spokesperson Julie Caguiat told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(The lockdown is not just a replay, it’s a step backwards. One of our doctors said it's even 10 steps backwards compared to last year.)
"Hanggang ngayon failed talaga. Kailangan tingnan din ang leadership. Inuulit natin ang mga bagay na dapat hindi nangyari.
Nagdagdag ba tayo ng ospital? Hindi. Ang mga personnel bang hinire ay enough? Hindi."
(It remains a failure. We need to look at the leadership. We continue to do things we shouldn't be doing. Did we build more hospitals? No. Was the personnel we hired sufficient? No.)
The country needs at least 130,000 daily virus tests, which should include more than just primary contacts of the COVID-19 patient, Caguiat said.
"Testing sa maramihan lalo na sa lugar na nakikita talagang maraming kasong lumalaaganap. At saka yung testing na agaran," she said.
(We need to conduct mass testing, especially in areas where there are surges. And it should be immediate.)
"Out of 30,000 to 40,000 currently, ang sinasabi ng mga eksperto dapat 130,000 kasi umaaabot tayo ng 10,000 ngayon na kaso. Kulang na kulang talaga."
(Out of 30,000 to 40,000 currently, experts say we should conduct 130,000 tests because we're reaching 10,000 new cases daily. It's not enough.)
Vice-President Leni Robredo earlier proposed the number of daily COVID-19 tests, which should be conducted in each region to achieve a 5 percent positivity rate based on the World Health Organization's standards.
Aside from health measures, the country must also provide economic assistance, Caguiat said.
"Yung mga tao pag wala nang makain, kasama na ang kalusugan nilang maaapektuhan," she said.
(If people don't have anything to eat, their health will also be affected.)
Transport group PISTON said many of its members have yet to receive cash assistance from government a year into the pandemic.
"Sana yung sinasabi nilang ayuda ay totoo dahil hindi naman talaga napupunta sa mga driver. Malaking bahagi pa rin ang di pa nakakatanggap ng sinasabing social amelioration," PISTON national president Modi Floranda said.
(We hope the cash aid government is talking about is real, because drivers haven't received anything yet. Many of our members have yet to receive said social amelioration.)
"Ang panawagan namin ay 100 porsyento nang pabalikin (ang jeepney operation) at iyong ayuda ay matanggap ng drivers. Dapat hindi pinipili ng gobyerno sino ang makakatanggap ng ayuda."
(We call on government to allow the 100 percent operation of jeepneys and give assistance to drivers. They should not be handpicking who gets to receive aid.)