Duque warns of possible India-like surge if health protocols violated

Aleta Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2021 11:47 AM | Updated as of Apr 30 2021 12:02 PM

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) carry wood to prepare a funeral pyre for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victim during a mass cremation at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, April 26, 2021. Adnan Abidi, Reuters

MANILA - The Philippines could face a COVID-19 surge similar to that of India, where daily recorded cases already breached 300,000, if Filipinos fail to follow minimum health protocols, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday.

“Pagka hindi tayo sumunod doon sa ating minimum health standards [and] if we do not intensify our COVID pandemic response like what has happened in India and also in some other countries where the second or third waves are being experienced, that is a big possibility,” said Duque in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.

He added Philippines must learn from the experience of India and other countries.

“We cannot dig our heads into the sand and make it appear that we're doing okay all the time. There are ways to doing things better that’s why everyday you have to read, everyday you have to watch out for what’s happening. What are the best practices, what are the practices that are really worth avoiding…at the end of the day we just have to work together,” he said.

India is facing an increasing death and infection rate since this month with the daily death toll climbing over 3,600.

‘We are not helpless. We are not without the power to fight this. Simple interventions, face mask, face shields, physical distancing, proper ventilation, avoidance of people in superspreader events yung mga mass gathering lahat naman ito nandyan na,” he said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gives updates to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on February 15, 2021. Joey Dalumpiners Presidential Photo

As of Thursday, the Philippines logged 1,028,738 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 69,354 active infections.

The Philippines has temporarily banned the entry of travelers from India.

All travelers coming from India or those with travel history to India within the 14 days preceding arrival will be prohibited from entering the Philippines "beginning 0001H of April 29, 2021, until May 14, 2021," Palace spokesman Harry Roque earlier announced.

The surge in COVID cases in India is caused by a more virulent virus. But the Indian variant has not yet entered the Philippines, Duque said.

COVID variants. Illustration by Pamela Denice Ramos, ABS-CBN News

"Mutations do happen when there is high transmission rate. I think control bring down the transmission. How do you do that? Prevention, early detection, isolation, quarantine, aggressively treatment protocols and guidelines ought to be followed at all times," he said.

Meanwhile, Duque said it was pointless to compare the Philippines with how other countries are dealing with the pandemic given the fragmented structure of the healthcare system.

“It’s been a weakness that the fragmentation of the health care system has really contributed to some of the delays in the response. I think this is a strategic issue that needs to be addressed and I’m glad that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has initiated discussions on the possible reintegration of the Philippine healthcare system,” he said.

DUQUE ON THE INDIA COVID-19 SITUATION:

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