Faustino convenes pandemic task force as cases soar

Amid a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections, Department of National Defense (DND) Officer-in-Charge Jose Faustino Jr. presided over the first organizational briefing of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 under the new administration to prevent a potential massive outbreak driven by new and highly transmissible variants.

Drpartment of National Defense (DND) Officer-in-Charge Jose Faustino Jr. presides over the first National Task Force Against COVID-19 organizational briefing at the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on July 18, 2022 as the country faces a new wave of infections. (Photo courtesy of DND) ssues and concerns on the current pandemic. With him in photo are Undersecretary of National Defense Franco Nemesio Gacal, and Undersecretary Raymundo Ferrer of the Office of Civil Defense. (Photo by: PINKY FERNANDEZ, DND DCOMMS)

Faustino, who concurrently serves as the chairperson of the NTF Against Covid-19, met with officials and representatives of different government agencies at the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City “to discuss matters of concern” and try to prevent case upsurge that could choke hospitals and paralyze the economy again.

“We cannot tell the virus to stop so we should also not stop in anticipating what we can do to mitigate an increase in COVID-19 infections,” he said.

During the meeting, the Department of Health (DOH) presented data on the current uptrend in the number of cases, especially in the utilization of healthcare facilities and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) all over the country.

Data from the DOH showed that the positivity rate, or the percentage of how prevalent positive cases of the disease are compared to the number of tests done, has already reached 13.7 percent as of July 18.

It is way too high compared to the five percent or below benchmark set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the situation to be called manageable.

A total of 14,640 cases were recorded by the DOH in its week-long monitoring from July 11 to 17, a 44-percent increase from the data logged in the previous week. On July 18, a total of 2,285 cases were added to the tally.

In total, the DOH has reported 3,735,383 cases as of July 18. Of these, 60,641 cases have died; 3,654,218 cases have recovered; and 20,524 cases were active or yet to recover.

Faustino said that the DOH, one of the agencies under the NTF COVID-19, was already finalizing a surge plan which will be disseminated to all hospitals to prepare them for a possible spike.

Faustino also relayed to the members of the task force a directive from President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to intensify the distribution and administration of vaccines and booster shots nationwide.

The National Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) said that 71,322,848 Filipinos have already been fully vaccinated as of July 18. Meanwhile, booster vaccination remains a problem due to low turnout. A total of 15,592,533 individuals have received booster shots out of the total 65 million eligible Filipinos.

Faustino cautioned the public against complacency and reiterated the importance of strict compliance with minimum safety and health protocols to arrest the case upsurge.