Ex-IATF adviser Leachon lists suggestions to slow down COVID-19 surge in PH


Posted at Apr 06 2021 04:31 AM

A health worker verifies a senior citizen's information prior to receiving her first dose of the coronavirus disease vaccine, at a covered court in Manila on March 29, 2021. Lisa Marie David, Reuters

MANILA—A former government adviser to the Philippine inter-agency COVID-19 task force offered 10 suggestions to slow down coronavirus transmission amid the continued rise of infections in the country.

Dr. Tony Leachon, in a statement Monday, proposed a "blueprint for change" to contain the second surge. He reiterated one of his earlier suggestions that government should intensify its capacities on mass testing, contact tracing, and construction of isolation and quarantine facilities.

"ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) to complete two weeks. This will be useless if basic pillars are not in place: mass testings, contact tracings, isolation and quarantine facilities," he said.

Leachon also said daily COVID-19 tests in the Philippines should reach 100,000. The country's current testing capacity, at 26,000, is not enough, he noted.

"PH doing only 26K tests per day. Why? We need to do 100K tests a day," he said, adding that improving contact tracing is a "must."

He also proposed the following:

  • Construction of field or satellite clines, or use of empty buildings to decongest hospitals
  • Establish command center for COVID-19 and non-COVID-10 cases
  • Strategic, agile, and transparent communication plan
  • Fast rollout of vaccination program in Metro Manila and other COVID-19 hotspots
  • Enhancement of data management and science-based projections
  • Intensify capacity on telemedicine and create protocols for mild COVID-19 patients
  • Stockpile coronavirus treatment for home care and hospital patients

"Many leaders and netizens have proposed a plan of action. Excellence in execution is needed," Leachon said.

The health expert earlier said the worsening COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines can be attributed to leaders' failed response.

"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," Leachon said.

His has been at odds with government over its handling of the pandemic. Last February, he called for the abolition of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases for allowing traditional cinemas to reopen. 

Leachon also slammed 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 it 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.

The Philippines' COVID-19 cases has swelled above 800,000, of which 143,726 are active, one of the highest in Asia. Death toll due to the virus in the country has reached 13,435 while 646,237 others recovered.

A group of independent researchers estimates that the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines will reach 1 million by the end of April.


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