By Genalyn Kabiling
With no vaccine still in sight, the coronavirus pandemic is still far from over, but the government is determined to contain the spread of the disease and mitigate its impact for the meantime, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles declared Wednesday.
Nograles said the government would sustain measures to “flatten the curve” or slow down the spread of the coronavirus, from enhancing the protection and capability of health frontliners to reinforcing healthcare facilities for testing, isolating, and treating patients.
The government aims to prevent a scenario where the number of cases escalate to 35,000 or 75,000, since this would overwhelm the country’s health system and workers, according to Nograles.
“It’s far from over — totoo ‘yun, because alam ninyo habang walang vaccine, ito na ‘yung sinasabi na new normal,” he said in a virtual press conference Wednesday.
(It’s far from over — that’s true, because while there is no vaccine, this is the new normal.)
“Ang gusto lang natin ma-manage na hindi kakalat na ganoon ka-widespread at lahat ng makakakuha at mahawaan ay naaalagaan natin at mas marami tayong recovery kaysa death. We need to make sure ma-minimize natin, up to zero ang deaths and more recoveries makikita natin.“
(We want to manage the spread and make sure it will not be widespread and that all those who may be infected will get treatment. We hope we will have more recoveries than deaths. We need to make sure we will minimize it, up to zero deaths and attain more recoveries.)
But even if the health crisis eases, Nograles admitted that health precautions such as social distancing measures will still be part of the “new normal” for people. He said the government will still have to issue guidelines to prevent any more massive local transmission.
“Kahit mag-transition tayo sa new normal, kailangan naka-implement pa ‘yung social distancing measures, kailangan maingat pa rin tayo. Dahil habang nandiyan pa ‘yung threat ng COVID-19 at wala pang vaccine, then kailangan lagi tayong mag-iingat.”
(Even if we transition to the new normal, we must still implement social distancing measures. We must continue to take precautions. Because while there remains a COVID-19 threat and there is no vaccine yet, we must continue to take precautions.)
The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over in Asia and the Pacific. The battle against the coronavirus will be a long-term battle and nations must not let their guards down, WHO Regional Director for Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai recently said.
The government has declared a state of public health emergency as well as a state of calamity to mobilize resources to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Luzon has been placed on enhanced community quarantine, while other provinces have implemented quarantine regulations amid soaring cases of infections in the country.
Nograles informed the public that the Luzon-wide quarantine timeline does not necessarily guarantee there will no longer be a coronavirus threat by mid-April.
“Just to manage everyone’s expectations, hindi naman ibig sabihin na by April 15, wala na tayong COVID-19. Nandiyan pa rin ang threat na ‘yan, kasi wala pa tayong bakuna,” he said.
(Just to manage everyone’s expectations, it does not mean we will have no more COVID-19 by April 15. The threat is still there because we still have no vaccine.)
The government, however, can prevent a massive outbreak of the disease if the public will fully cooperate, Nograles stressed.
“With everybody’s cooperation, hindi na tayo dadaan o pupunta sa 35,000 patients. ‘Yun ang iniiwasan natin. Siyempre pag-umabot tayo sa 35,000 o 75,000, overwhelmed na talaga ang ating healthcare and health facilities, pati ang ating health workers.”
(With everybody’s cooperation, we will not reach that point of 35,000 patients. We are trying to avoid that. Of course if we reach 35,000 or 75,000, our health care facilities and workers will be overwhelmed.)
He said government efforts to combat the coronavirus threat include the provision of medicines, medical supplies and equipment, as well as the identification of quarantine and isolation facilities.
The government earlier disclosed plans to convert large public buildings such as the Philippine International Convention Center, World Trade Center, and the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex into fully-functional quarantine facilities.
Maritime vessels are also being considered as floating quarantine centers. Hotels and other establishments have also been identified to serve as temporary medical facilities in every region of the country.
“This is a challenging time for us all,” Nograles said. “The crisis is here, now––and how we choose to confront this threat will determine how and when we will overcome it.”
SIGN UP TO DAILY NEWSLETTERCLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP