How to prioritize both lives and livelihood, especially in the light of the new modified enhanced community quarantine, was tackled by leaders from the health, business, and academic sectors in the virtual business forum, “Can the Philippines Dance with COVID-19?” held August 5.
The speakers included Secretary Vince Dizon, National Action Plan Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer and testing czar; Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Rosette Vergeire; former DOH secretary Dr. Manuel Dayrit; Josephine Gotianun-Yap, chief executive officer of the Filinvest Development Corp.; and University of the Philippines College of Public Health Dean Dr. Vicente Belizario. Joining them in the panel discussion were Lars Wittig, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) vice president and country manager of Regus and Spaces, and George Royeca, chief transport advocate of Angkas. Amor Maclang, chair of the ECCP Innovation Committee and communications technical advisor to the DOH, was panel moderator.
Dizon said the capacity for testing has improved, as the labs increased from one to 96 in four months. “From 500 tests a day in March, we are now doing 35,000 tests today,” he said, “We are pushing to do more tests. We are (now) one of the countries who test the most in Asia and far outpacing the other countries in (the region).”
Dizon said collaboration is critical to achieve more results. “We have to push more in places with high spreads like Calabarzon. It’s all about execution and coming together.
Vergeire said the DOH is collaborating with the medical communities on increasing contact and recovery efforts in the barangay level during this MECQ.
Belizario pointed out accurate communication with the public is needed “to lower the risk of COVID-19 to low, low levels so it doesn’t pose a risk to a significant number of the population and to public areas. This should be complemented by data through enhanced surveillance and response in the regions and provinces.”
Dayrit, a member of Task Force T3, cited the importance of building capacity in various aspects throughout the entire medical supply chain, including testing, laboratories, isolation, contact tracing, and hospital beds.
“We need to invest in and modernize our health system because we will face similar medical challenges in the future,” he added.
Playing a key role for her work in the T3 task force, Gotianun-Yap emphasized the importance of data management in preventing the spread of COVID-19, seeing how it can protect industry employees, customers, business partners, and communities.
Filinvest used the StaySafe app for daily health reporting and app-based contact tracing. “It’s important for us to have a data system to track COVID-19.” She envisioned the building of a “data end-to-end system that can track COVID-19 and link hospitals and clinics. The public will be notified if they come into contact with a positive-tested person.”
Filinvest was also the first to install safety measures at the initial stages of the outbreak. To prevent infection through commuting, it provided shuttle services for employees. BPO tenants were also allowed to sleep in their office premises. Testing for the workforce, especially the frontliners, were regularly conducted. Mall operations were reinvented to encourage social distancing, and all of its premises, offices, outlets, stores, and other stores were frequently sanitized.