Former Health Secretary Rep. Janette Loreto-Garin recently released a statement detailing the next steps in the fight against COVID. It may be recalled that, as of August 08, there are a total of 57,559 active cases in the country. Moreover, there are +4,226 confirmed cases out of the total tests done by 82 out of 99 labs (details sourced from the Department of Health).
Here is Janette Garin’s official statement:
Yesterday was the first day that MECQ was re-imposed in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna. Ano ibig sabihin nito? Kaakibat ng mga hakbang sa pagsugpo ng COVID, marami na namang hindi makakapagtrabaho, mawawalan ng kita at may mga maliliit na negosyong maaring magsara. Sa pagbabalik sa MECQ, at pag pasok ng tag ulan, sa liit ng kita, mahal na mga bilihin, hirap ng buhay—-non-COVID illnesses and even deaths will be on the rise
The imposition of MECQ may prevent the possible collapse of our healthcare system and give a little breathing space for our frontline health workers. However, community quarantine is not the sole solution for COVID-19. It needs to be parallel with continuous efforts to curb the virus and its transmission. As I have always suggested, we need a whole of nation approach.
We have a long-lasting pandemic without a vaccine or a cure yet. What we need to do now is to co-exist with this virus. In winning the fight against COVID-19, we must learn how to live with the virus.
We need to attack COVID, not just wait for it to show via the symptoms manifested by patients. We need to keep on testing and immediately isolate the positives while allowing the negatives to help our economy recover.
The Private Sector thru Project ARK PCR Initiative has successfully reduced the cost of PCR/ Swab Testing to Php 1800- Php2000.But we need further reduction because affordability is key to attacking the virus. While the private sector never wanes in wanting to help, aligning with the National Government and the LGUs are paramount.
Isolation centers go hand in hand with massive testing. This should be complemented with a social amelioration fund of Php5,000 to PhP10,000 per asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID patient so they can feed their families while in isolation. Mental and emotional support for those in isolation can be provided by DOH.
I know that many would want to be tested via RT-PCR pero hindi magawa dahil mahal. Kaya naman isinusulong natin itong pooled testing na sinimulan na namin gawin through Project ARK RT-PCR Initiative. Our pathologists who are spearheading this, will serve as our warriors in targeting this invisible enemy.
Mula sa kasalukuyang presyo ng PhP4,500 to PhP8,000 bawat tao sa isang test, mapapababa natin ang presyo nito hanggang PhP350 kada tao sa pooled testing. Sa pananaw ng iba, the country seems to be losing this battle, but it does not have to stay that way. May magagawa pa tayo. Kaya pa nating mapagtagumpayan ito kung magtutulungan lang ang lahat at may direksyon ang ating mga galaw.
When health meets economy, when massive testing is done in unison with social distancing, hygiene practices and other new normal behaviors, when the public and private sectors cooperate, when the national and local government units work hand-in-hand, we can co-exist with COVID and win while we await a vaccine.