By Hannah Torregoza
Detained Senator Leila de Lima has called on the government to prepare for the worst-case scenario in the event that the COVID-19 infection spreads uncontrollably across the country.
At best, the opposition senator said, the government should fully equip health authorities and prepare them for the worst-case scenario to avoid a situation similar to what happened in Italy, where over 3,000 people have died while 35,713 others have tested positive for coronavirus infection.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier warned that the number of COVID-19 cases could reach 75,000 in three months if the government would not take drastic actions to contain and stop the further spread of the virus.
De Lima, however, pointed out that for the country’s health force to do its job well, the government should first have to secure national borders, especially against passengers coming directly from China.
“As our health force starts to respond to every case of the dreadful disease, we must also make sure that our borders are secure from further infection from the outside, especially China,” De Lima said.
The senator said any remaining flights from China should be completely banned.
“It’s something that should have been done two (2) months ago when the first signals of a global pandemic began to arise from Wuhan as its residents started to spread the virus throughout the world, even while bodies already started falling in that city,” she stressed.
As chair of the Senate Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development Committee, De Lima stressed the importance of the government and the private sector extending all support necessary to health workers.
“We now have to deal with these ourselves. Beyond the checkpoints and the military’s praetorian presence in the next 30 days in our lives, we should not lose sight of the more important requirements to combat the virus,” she said.
“These are: a fully equipped health force, complete and absolute support to our medical professionals and health workers, and efficient delivery of health and medical logistics to our hospitals, both public and private,” De Lima emphasized.
De Lima said she strongly believes that well-prepared hospitals would be the country’s last line of defense to treat a possible surge of coronavirus patients, especially among the vulnerable sectors, such as children, elderly, and the poor.
“The soldiers’ bullets cannot kill the virus, only the skill of our doctors and nurses can,” she stressed.
“Then, it is also just a matter of time before the soldiers themselves start getting infected, and that is when we will realize that the real arena of battle in this fight is not out there in the provincial frontiers, but inside our hospitals and our communities. Here, the doctors and health workers will be our soldiers,” she reiterated.