Philippines has yet to reach COVID-19 peak, says gov't task force

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 08 2020 11:58 PM

A makeshift barricade blocks a street from outsiders to protect a neighborhood from the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manila on March 23, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters/file

MANILA -- Three weeks since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, the Philippines has yet to reach the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the National Task Force against COVID-19, citing studies conducted by the University of the Philippines and John Hopkins University. 

That’s despite the decline seen in the number of new cases reported in recent days.

“Pagkatapos po ng mahigit tatlong linggong enhanced community quarantine, nakita na po natin ang kaunting pagbaba sa bilang ng mga bagong may sakit na COVID-19,” UP Executive Vice President Ted Herbosa said.

“We are going up the peak, ngunit hindi pa natin ito nararating. Ito ay ayon sa pag-aaral ng UP system at John Hopkins University,” National Task Force against COVID 19 spokesperson Retired Gen. Restituto Padilla noted in a briefing.

To flatten the curve or reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the government is preparing for mass testing. 

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) plans to ramp up the processing of COVID-19 tests to 10,000 a day, and is preparing to distribute 900,000 test kits. Padilla said the RITM has so far distributed 300,000 testing kits to accredited testing centers around the country. 

“Para maiwasang magkaroon ng backlog sa main office ng RITM, namahagi ito ng 300,000 testing kits sa accredited testing centers sa buong bansa,” Padilla said.

The government, meanwhile, expects the arrival of 985,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) within the next two weeks. Of the 1 million PPE sets the government purchased, it has so far distributed 12,000 to six hospitals, mostly in Metro Manila.

Padilla also stressed the vital role of local government units in flattening the COVID-19 curve, citing Baguio City as an example. 

“Tatlo po ang direksyon na kanyang tinatahak… Una, transparency in communication. Pangalawa, mass testing, at ang pangatlo, effective contact tracing. Lahat po ito ay sang-ayon as ating action plan template na ninanais po namin na sana ay maintindihan at magawa ng lahat ng ating LGUs sa iba’t ibang panig ng Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao,” Padilla said.

He also called on LGUs to remind their constituents not to discriminate against health workers and returning overseas Filipino workers.

“Ang pananakit o pagdiscriminate sa ating healthcare workers, ganun din sa ating OFWs… ay hindi naaayon sa kagandahang asal ng isang tunay na Pilipino na maka-Diyos, makatao at makabayan. Kami po ay nakikiusap sa mga LGU na sana maabisuhan natin ang ating mga kababayan sa hindi tamang ugaling ito,” Padilla said.

He reiterated the call for Filipinos to stay at home for the duration of the quarantine, observe proper hygiene, and use a facemask when they have to leave the house.

The Department of Health announced on Wednesday that there are 106 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 3,870.

Included in the count are 12 new recovered patients, or a total of 96 recoveries since the start of the outbreak. There are also 5 new fatalities, raising the death toll to 182.