Hontiveros to gov’t: reinforce ‘test, trace, isolate’ policy as COVID-19 cases surge

Let’s go back to the basics.

Senator Risa Hontiveros made the call as she expressed alarm over the record spike in COVID-19 cases today, Friday, March 12.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Risa Hontiveros(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Hontiveros said it is imperative that the government reinforces the “test, trace and isolate” policy to curb the rising number of coronavirus cases following the Department of Health’s (DOH) latest advisory of an additional 4,578 cases of COVID-19.

“We have to return to the basics— test, trace and isolate— and execute this consistently and decisively,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“I am shocked that to this day we still do not have a unified contact tracing system, which is supposed to be fundamental and basic to our pandemic response,” the senator lamented.

Hontiveros, likewise, urged the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force (NTF) for COVID-19 to provide periodic and free COVID-19 testing to all individuals who are at particular risk of spreading COVID-19 such as frontline workers with high customer interaction, transport workers and even delivery riders who travel to different locations and come into contact with numerous people.

“The IATF, DOH and DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) do not need to go back to the drawing board. All the elements are there, we just need to improve our mediocre implementation,” she said.

“Taasan naman natin yung standards natin ng excellent (Let’s elevate our standards to excellent),” she added.

Hontiveros pointed out that having almost 5,000 new infections—setting a record for 2021 for the second day in a row—“is no joke.” “Binigay na lahat ng enabling policies at support ang IATF para tumugon sa pandemya. Ano ang excuse nila ngayon? Nakakaflashback to the start of the pandemic ang mga band-aid solutions at decisions ng gobyerno (We have given the IATF all enabling policies and support to respond to this pandemic. What are their excuses now? We can’t help but flashback to the start of the pandemic when the government can just offer band-aid solutions and decisions),” she lamented.

“After one year, this is just plain slugishness. Slowmo ang galaw ng IATF sa mabilis na kumakalat na virus, parang walang 12,694 na namatay na (the IATF has been so slow compared to a virus that’s spreading fast, acting as if there were no 12, 694 people who have already died),” she pointed out.

Hontiveros said it is clear that the government failed to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus.

“We keep on celebrating too early by drastically relaxing health protocols and sending mixed signals to the public, but we haven’t even flattened the curve since the onset of the pandemic,” she stressed.