The country has managed to stave off the “devastating” first phase of the coronavirus pandemic but must continue to work hard to limit the spread of the disease, according to a Malacañang official.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo highlighted that the nation has “succeeded in flattening the initial wave of infection” due to the partnership of the government and the private sector.
Panelo made the remarks ahead of President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in which he will lay down the government’s game plan to sustain the pandemic response and mitigate its impact on the people and the economy.
Barring last-minute changes, the President’s annual address will be delivered before a limited number of lawmakers and Cabinet members at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City under heavy health and security protocols. The alternative plan is to move the venue to Malacanang if the SONA guests at Batasan test positive for the illness.
“Despite the novel and unprecedented circumstances of this pandemic and the challenges it has wrought upon the Philippines and the rest of the world, concerted government work, both at the national and local levels, and with the cooperation of the private sector, have staved off the devastating initial phase of the pandemic,” Panelo told the Manila Bulletin.
“With an understanding that the pandemic shall persist while a vaccine has not yet been discovered, we have been hard at work to capacitate our healthcare system to adequately adapt to the situation and to ensure the readiness of our citizens for the new normal,” he said.
The coronavirus cases in the country have so far soared to more than 78,000 as the government gradually relaxed lockdown restrictions to allow some businesses to reopen. The coronavirus lockdown, which started back in mid-March, has weakened the local economy and left many people jobless as many companies were forced to scale down or close operations.
Malacañang earlier admitted that the country cannot afford another restrictive lockdown, citing the need to balance public health and the economy.
The country’s new quarantine status will likely be known this week following President Duterte’s meeting with members of a government task force on the pandemic response.
The President has placed Metro Manila and several areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) until the end of the month to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease. Except for Cebu City that is under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) other parts of the county are under the most lenient modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
According to Panelo, it is important to focus on ensuring the health and safety of the people.
“The government, through the leadership of President Duterte, will provide all means necessary to assist our countrymen overcome this crisis,” he said.