Garin: Let’s co-exist with COVID

Published August 5, 2020, 12:00 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Iloilo 1st district Rep. and ARK-PCR Private Sector Chief Implementer Janette Garin called on the government Wednesday (August 5) to ramp up its mass testing and to provide social amelioration aid to the families of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID-19 patients.

Iloilo 1st district Rep. Janette Garin

The former Health secretary made the call, even as she expressed concern that the government’s reimposition of a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and in other regions would mean work stoppage, closing down of some businesses, and even rise in non-COVID illnesses and deaths.

“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,” she said in a statement.

“Isolation centers go hand in hand with massive testing. This should be complemented with a social amelioration fund of P5,000 to P 10,000 per asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID patient so they can feed their families while in isolation,” she stressed.

Garin asked the Department of Health (DOH) to provide  mental and emotional support for those who are in isolation.

“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,” she said.

President Duterte has decided to revert the National Capital Region (NCR), and neighbouring areas, including Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal to  a MECQ from August 4 to 18, 2020,  following the continued rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Garin said while, the private sector-led Project ARK (Antibody Rapid Test Kit) PCR Initiative has successfully reduced the cost of PCR or swab testing to P 1,800 to P2,000, there “is a need for further reduction because affordability is key to attacking the virus.”

She noted from the current cost of P4,500 to P8,000, the cost of the PCR testing will be reduced to P350 per person through pooled reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

“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.”