OCTA expert: Gov’t could have done better to halt COVID-19 surge but now’s not the time for finger-pointing

Published April 14, 2021, 4:48 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

A member of the OCTA Research Team on Wednesday, April 14, appealed for all sectors to come together to stop the surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) instead of blaming the government for failing to curb the health crisis.


OCTA Research fellow Prof. Ranjit Rye said that while the government could have done more to stop the new surge of the disease, now is not the time for finger-pointing as COVID-19 cases are still high.

“The surge is a big thing, there’s no going around it. We failed here, we could have done better. We could have saved more lives. This surge will cost us and continue to cost us lives. This could have been prevented, we could have done better. The thing is, right now, the focus for all of us is to come together, work together to reverse the surge. This is the priority number one,” Rye said in an ANC interview.

“Saka na ‘yung sisihan muna, magtulungan muna tayo ngayon. Bayanihan muna tayo at the moment kasi seryoso ang banta. (Let’s set aside finger-pointing for now, let’s help each other. Bayanihan is needed at the moment because the threat of COVID-19 is serious). Right now, we are in the midst of it, we are not yet out of the woods and it’s filling up our hospitals,” he added.

Rye said addressing the improvement of systems can be done later on. “Right now, the focus should be the surge, honestly. This is a terrible, terrible surge.”

He explained that systems improvement includes the institutionalization of a Center for Disease Control in the country to focus on surveillance, monitoring, and epidemics of this proportion. 

“The current surge has exposed the weaknesses of institutions and it’s a long-standing problem—weak public health system, the lack of biosurveillance, the weakness of scientific advice at the national level,” he pointed out.

“The focus here should be; we cannot open up the economy, we cannot jumpstart economic growth, we cannot jumpstart the new normal if transmissions are not managed,” he added.

Rye also noted the need to upgrade testing, tracing, and isolation, citing isolation as the “weakest link” in the system.

“We need to double testing on a daily basis at least to help us get out of this surge or this MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) quickly. We need to improve on contact tracing because contact tracing is the weakest link in our system. It’s likely we have to deal with testing and tracing for the next two years looking at how slow our vaccination process will be. Because vaccination is slow, a place like NCR could be vulnerable to surges. We need systems in place, we need capacity in our hospitals, we need all of these things but we can’t build them tomorrow or the next few weeks,” he said.

He added that biosurveillance is also important in systems improvement, which “should be a national priority, a national security concern.”