MANILA - Turning the public into frontliners in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will greatly help unburden the country's already swamped hospitals and reduce the number of health care workers being exposed to the virus, an adviser of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 said Saturday.
Dr. Tony Leachon said he plans to bring up his new paradigm before the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which leads the response to the pandemic.
“Mayroon akong new paradigm. Dapat ang frontliners natin publiko at last line of defense mga doktor kasi kumokonti na sila,” said Leachon in an interview on DZMM.
(I have a new paradigm. The public should be the frontliners and doctors are the last line of defense, because their numbers are dwindling.)
This was an apparent reference to the recorded deaths of doctors in the course of battling the contagious disease.
As frontliners, citizens need to be tested, Leachon said.
“Pag ‘di kayo nagkasakit at nasa bahay kayo, kayo magsisilbing frontliners para 'yung health care system natin ‘di mag collapse,” he said.
(When you don't get sick and are just in your homes, you are serving as frontliners so our health care system won't collapse).
Getting the vulnerable sector, including the immunocompromised, tested early will also enable them to know if they need to be quarantined.
“Kung magpapa-testing kayo, malalaman niyo kung hihiwalay kayo at saka early cases na ma-diagnose ‘di lalala para magkaroon ng pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome,” he said.
(If you get tested, you'll know if you need to be isolated, and early cases can be diagnosed, it won't get severe to the point that the patient gets pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome.)
Those with pre-existing conditions such as people with high-blood pressure, diabetes or cancer who think they were exposed to the virus should be able to access a hotline and schedule a home test.
"Pupuntahan para ma swab. Pupuntahan sila dapat,” he said.
([Medical workers] will go to them for the swab test.)
Leachon earlier backed the possibility of extending the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, where most cases of coronavirus infection have been reported, to contain the pandemic and give way for mass testing for the virus.
“Baka kung mag-ilift ng lockdown baka outside the National Capital Region kasi kokonti sila,” said Leachon.
(In case the lockdown is lifted, it should be just outside the National Capital Region where there are only a few cases.)
Metro Manila accounts for about 80 percent of the country's 3,018 patients with the respiratory disease. As of Friday, the death toll due to COVID-19 has reached 136.
“Kung naumpisahan natin nang maaga (mass testing) tulad ng ibang bansa siguro patapos na rin tayo ngayon. Sa epidemic curve, ang China and Korea nasa dulo na nag-flat na sila. Tayo wala pa sa peak. Tayo nag-uumpisa pa lang at ‘di pa tayo nagpapa-plateau at bababa,” he said.
(If we had started mass testing early like in the other countries, maybe we're at the end of it by now. In China and [South Korea], the epidemic curve has flattened. We haven't reached the peak. We are just at the start and we haven't hit a plateau and cases have not started to decline.)
The government eyes mass testing on April 14, which other countries like South Korea and Australia did to isolate carriers of the disease.