The World Health Organization has cautioned the Philippine government against ending the quarantine too soon. The health agency has advised authorities to consider the epidemiological situation should the local government lift the Luzon lockdown (originally scheduled on Easter Sunday). To date, the country has a total of 2,311 confirmed cases.
According to WHO Pacific Regional Director Takeshi Kasai (in an article by the Inquirer), just as the government made careful considerations in imposing a lockdown in Luzon, the same should be done if it would proceed with reopening the area. Read more: WHO cautions Ph gov’t against lifting Luzon quarantine.
Moreover, WHO notes that the country’s fatality rate in terms of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) is “quite high” at 4.2%. The global average is 4%. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explains that the increase in number is due to the expansion of the country’s testing capacity.
“Obviously, this measure can’t continue forever. At some point, the government needs to think [about] when to lift this measure. When you do that, we have to make careful considerations of the epidemiological situation and impact of the lockdown,” states Kasai in a press briefing.
“We may have to peel one by one and not just immediately lift those public health measures which were bundled with the lockdown to balance and control the disease and to bring back the society back to normal,” he added. Kasai stresses that find-isolate-treat-trace methods should be consistent for the lockdown to be effective.
“There are people around the world that are doing their best to fight COVID-19. But it is unlikely that this virus will disappear next week or even next month. This battle is going to be a long-term battle,” adds Kasai.
Moreover, according to Vergeire, the Department of Health has yet to make a recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases on the lockdown. To date, the local agency is still meeting with experts.
“Our objective is to lower the number of cases until it reaches zero,” states Vergeire. To date, the DOH has six operational laboratories with approximately 49 more hospitals seeking approval to function as testing centers.