MANILA - A public health expert on Tuesday found the government's COVID-19 response wanting, concurring with Vice President Leni Robredo's comment the Philippines still has a plenty of room for improvement in curbing the virus.
Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser of the government's pandemic task force, said COVID-19 continued to take a devastating toll in the country, with over 5,000 deaths and nearing 300,000 infections.
"Without sounding political and just be objective, well sa tingin ko, based sa metric of success natin, eh kulang pa at hindi pa natin nape-perfect 'yun," he told Teleradyo's "SRO".
Malacañang on Tuesday dared Robredo to come up with a solution to the health crisis, suggesting she might even become president if she has one.
The vice president earlier made suggestions on how to respond to the pandemic after Duterte said in a late-night public address that only a vaccine could finally solve COVID-19.
"Tama po 'yung comment na 'yun. Valid po 'yung comment na 'yun kung titingnan natin. Dapat may scorecard po eh," said Leachon, adding the government's response must be evaluated in order to identify and improve its COVID-19 measures.
Nearly a year into the pandemic, Leachon said the Philippines had yet to flatten the curve and rein in the transmission.
"Tayo lang po sa buong Southeast Asia at Indonesia ang hindi nakapag-flatten ng curve. In fact, number 1 tayo sa new and active cases," he said.
In terms of COVID-19-related fatalities, the Philippines had surpassed China's Wuhan City, the ground zero of the novel coronavirus. The death toll in the Philippines stood at 5,049 while Wuhan recorded nearly 4,000.
Though the Philippines had tested over 3 million people for the virus, Leachon said testing was irrelevant if results were not released within 48 hours, citing guideline from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Kasi maaring 'yang mga individuals na 'yan nagagala na 'yan at hindi na-isolate," he said.
Leachon said the Philippine also had to improve its contact tracing efforts, saying the current ratio is 1:10 - far from the ideal 1:37.
He also expressed concern in further reopening the economy because Filipinos' cultural quotient is not on par with other countries.
"Ibig sabihin, puwede mong pabayaan silang mag-reopen ng economy pero ang disiplina nila for physical distancing malinaw. Tayo biglang nag-Manila Bay, the next day, nando'n na 'yung mga tao. Sa Cebu, kailangan pa ng tangke para makontrol ang social behavior.
Due to a high unemployment rate, Leachon said he agreed with suggestions to downgrade Metro Manila's restriction to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), but there's a catch.
"Pero dapat po 'yung health system capacity at minimum health standards huwag nating ibaba. Magkaroon tayo ng trade-off," he said.