DOH sticks to ‘slow but sure’ tack amid calls to reopen economy

“Slowly but surely.”

The Department of Health (DOH) said that it acknowledges the importance of lifting the lockdown measures for the revitalization of the country's economy but this move should be done cautiously. 

"We advise to approach this with caution. Slowly but surely. If we hurry, we run the risk of losing what progress we have made, endangering the lives of people and overburdening the healthcare system," the DOH said in a statement. 

"If these things happen, we will again be put into tighter lockdowns and go through the process again," it added. 

The Health department made the response amid calls from a group of medical professionals led by former DOH secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan to lift the lockdown measure “to allow our people to begin to rebuild their lives.”

The DOH said that the country has "already made progress" in its fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

"We urge the stakeholders of the government to address the livelihood concerns of our fellow countrymen with the lives and safety of others as their primary consideration," it said. 

The people were reminded anew to follow the minimum health standards. 

Hydroxychloroquine: Not recommended 

The  DOH also cautioned against the proposal of the medical professionals led by Galvez-Tan to use antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. 

"It is essential that we approach these experimental treatments with caution and to make sure it is approved for use," said the DOH. 

The DOH noted that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not recommended for patients with probable or confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia, for outpatients with early or mild COVID- 19 disease, or as prophylaxis or prevention of COVID- 19 even when it is combined with other medicines such as macrolides like azithromycin or antiviral agents lopinavir-ritonavir and favipiravir.

"According to the FDA, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine had safety issues like serious hearth rhythm problems, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure," it said.