Palace: Spike in COVID-19 cases a ‘reality’ that should be faced

Published August 5, 2020, 1:24 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

As the Philippines continues to experience daily record-breaking increases in the number of COVID-19 cases, Malacañang found solace in the report that 70 percent of all the countries in the world are experiencing the same and it is a reality that everyone needs to face.

(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Philippines again broke its own record of single-day COVID-19 count with 6,352 new cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 112,593 on Tuesday.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Roque said the surge of daily COVID-19 cases should not be looked at negatively but a reality that should be accepted.

“Let’s not have this wrong view that only the Philippines is having this many increases in cases,” he said on Wednesday.

Roque cited a report by Nikkei released over the weekend which stated that 70 percent of all countries in the world are reporting a rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Well, we’re not alone. It’s not as if it’s just happening in the Philippines,” he said.

“It’s not expected but it’s been experienced by the majority of countries worldwide,” he added.

Roque attributed the rise of cases to the mutation of the SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, he admitted that he was unsure if the said mutated virus has reached Philippine shores.

“Maybe it’s the disease. Now, overseas, they have confirmed that it has become far more infectious, five times more infectious,” he said.

“We don’t know yet, scientifically, if it has come to our shores but most likely it has. It’s a matter of time before the UP (University of the Philippines) Genome Center can confirm it,” he added.

What should be done

Roque said the only thing the government can do is to intensify its testing, tracing, and treatment (T3) capabilities to contain the spread of the disease.

“Everyone will have to intensify their T3s and there’s no other strategy in dealing with COVID-19,” he said.

Roque reiterated that the Philippines is headed in the right direction in dealing with the pandemic, even if it reverted Metro Manila and four nearby provinces to the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

“I think we are headed in the right direction because we did not spare any expense, we opened as many labs as we could in an unprecedented time,” he said.

“I think we have the distinction of having the most labs in such a short period of time from 1 to 90 plus now over a period of five months and we’re opening more because we’re not satisfied with the current testing,” he added.

The Palace official said that it was also important to note that the COVID-19 mortality rate in the Philippines remains low and that the government continues to increase hospital bed capacities.

“Although there are deaths, we are keeping the deaths at a minimum. We are well within the threshold of 5 percent mortality rate considered acceptable by the international community. We are at 2-point-something right now as far as mortality rate is concerned,” Roque said.

Manpower

As medical practitioners asked for a “timeout,” Roque said the Department of Health (DOH) will be hiring medical workers from areas in the Philippines with few COVID-19 cases and that they will receive the same compensation as public hospital health workers.

“Most of the nurses will be working in private hospitals. Since it is the DOH that is employing them, they will be enjoying the benefits of government health workers which is substantially more compared to what the private hospitals are paying them,” he said.

“So there’s already a pay incentive there and there are also other incentives thrown their way such as free testing, free accommodation, and free insurance,” he added.

Roque said he was not doubting that medical workers will heed the call of the DOH.

“I have no doubts that our health workers are among the most nationalistic and the most humanist of all the professions. I think they will heed the call of the DOH to come work in Metro Manila for the time being,” he said.

President Duterte placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under the MECQ until August 18 following the calls of the medical community for a timeout.

Duterte acknowledged that medical workers are already “bone-weary” but scolded them for expressing it publicly.

 
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