Ex-health chief backs easing of lockdown, cites need for increased coronavirus testing


Posted at May 13 2020 10:34 AM | Updated as of May 13 2020 10:40 AM

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MANILA - A former health secretary on Wednesday said modifying lockdown rules in Metro Manila was "correct" even as she said the country has "not done enough testing" for the coronavirus.

Government on Tuesday placed Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu City under a "modified" enhanced community quarantine that allows some sectors to resume operations at half-capacity.

"I don’t think it’s premature. I think it’s right to ease the lockdown at this point. Not just because of the health issues we have improved upon, we need to look at the lives of the people outside the coronavirus," Dr. Esperanza Cabral told ANC.

"With the data that have been presented, we can see a plateau or a flattening of the curve in Metro Manila. Aside from what I’ve said, the people can only stand so much isolation, lack of livelihood and income. Food and security is a very important thing, aside from that there are many other illnesses they can get from isolation."

The Philippines, however, needs to do more testing for the coronavirus, Cabral said.

The Philippines on Sunday reached its goal of 8,000 daily coronavirus tests, some 10 days past its intended schedule.

"No, we have not done enough testing. We need to do more. We need to use the data we have on hand and couple that with the data other countries have as well as our own experience with other contagious diseases to make a decision," she said.

Cabral said officials need to launch a "massive information campaign" in order to keep the country's gains from its strict lockdown.

"We need to make the community understand that even as we are easing up on the lockdown, there are still responsibilities we have to ourselves and to the community and this include universal health precautions," she said.

Cabral, meantime, urged health authorities to also look into the data of other illnesses in the country.

"We need to look at the data whether we have increased deaths in tuberculosis, in other viral illnesses, heart attacks, diabetic crisis," she said.