Palace says gov’t did ‘excellent’ job in controlling COVID-19 outbreak

Published March 8, 2021, 3:48 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has performed an “excellent” job in controlling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic almost a year since a lockdown was first imposed in the country, Malacañang declared Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the country has recorded lower cases of COVID-19 infections and deaths, compared to other countries that are “more economically wealthy and (with) more developed health sectors.”

“We were excellent. Na-control po natin ang pagkalat ng sakit lalung-lalo na kung ikukumpara tayo sa mas mayayaman at mga bansa na mas mararami at mas moderno ang mga ospital (We controlled the spread of the illness especially if we are compared to richer countries with more modern hospitals),” he said during a Palace press briefing Monday.

“Itong ating deaths na 2.11% is obviously katiting naman ng deaths na nangyayari doon sa mga bansa na mas mayaman at mas developed sa atin (Our fatality rate of 2.1 percent is obviously lower compared to the deaths reported in richer and developed countries). So I hope that is clear. Let’s give credit where it is due,” Roque added.

The United States currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world at more than 28 million based on the global tracking of Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. The number of deaths reached over 525,000 in the United States.

Globally, more than 116 million confirmed cases and more than 2.5 million related deaths have been reported based on the same university tracking.

According to Roque, the Philippines now ranks 30th among world nations with most COVID-19 cases at 594,412. The country also placed 65th in terms of case fatality rate at 2.1 percent. As of March 7, the country’s death toll has reached 12,516.

“So we did a very good job given na (ako) as author of the Universal Healthcare (law), (alam ko na) talagang kulang na kulang po talaga ang ating health facilities at kulang iyong pondo na binubuhos natin para sa health sector (we have a shortage in health facilities and funds for the health sector),” he added.

The coronavirus pandemic has so far left more than 12,000 people dead, driven the country into recession, and left many Filipinos unemployed and hungry. The government first imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March 2020 to quell the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities started to relax the restrictions starting in June 2020 to spur business activities and livelihood.

Roque has defended the government’s decision to impose community quarantine “just in time” in mid-March last year, giving hospitals time to build capacity and stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. He said deaths were also “limited” owing to the government’s pandemic response.

“I will maintain it has been excellent management. We regret that people died but this is a pandemic and we all know now how to prevent these deaths because we know who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 — the seniors,” he said.

With the prevailing community quarantine level, Roque noted that the government made the senior citizens and those with existing health conditions as “homeliners.” Under the government’s quarantine rules, any person below 15 years old, those 65 years old and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women are required to remain in their houses at all times except for obtaining essential goods and services as well as going to work.

“We were excellent in managing it, unfortunately habang walang bakuna, talagang maraming mahahawa, maraming mamamatay (while there is no vaccine, many will really get infected, many may die). But we limited deaths to around 12,000 ikumpara naman ‘yan sa Estados Unidos (compared to those in the United States),” he said.

Roque however recognized the continuing need to sustain compliance with health precautions as well as step up vaccination of more people to stem the outbreak. Contact tracing efforts must also be enhanced to immediately detect people with the illness.

“Lesson learned: May mga area na talagang dapat paigtingin pa natin at ginagawa naman po natin lalung-lalo na iyong sa tracing (Lesson learned: There are areas that we must improve on and we are doing this especially when it comes to tracing),” he said.

For those people needing isolation, Roque said the government was able to establish more temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs).

“Ang pinakamaganda po nating nagawa, napadami po natin ang ating mga TTMFs, iyong mga isolation facilities na kung saan natin ilalagay iyong mga taong na-trace na natin na nagkaroon ng close contact o iyong mga positibo at saka lalung-lalo na po diyan sa ating mga hospital ‘no, alam na po natin kung paano gagamutin ang mga nagkakasakit (The best thing we did is we were able to build more TTMFs, the isolation facilities where we placed people that had close contacts with positive. And in our hospitals, we now know how to care for the sick),” he said.