Filipinos now coping with the virus

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    IN his latest nationwide television address, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed elation that the country is “succeeding” in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak because there is a reported downtrend in the number of infection cases.

    The Chief Executive praised the improvement in the government’s pandemic response and cited the Department of Health, the Inter-Agency Task Force, local officials, and the general population for their unrelenting effort to contain and defeat the epidemic.

    The President’s optimism was engendered by the report of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III about a general downtrend in the country’s coronavirus cases as well as a low fatality rate in the country. The health secretary said this is so because the government’s prevention strategy is working, and is complemented by the full cooperation of the public in observing health protocols.

    ‘Also, since there is a serious COVID-19 outbreak in Sabah, Malaysia, the government team will go to Tawi-Tawi to ensure that the coronavirus 2019 will not cross the border and infect our brothers in the South.’

    As of October 19, the country has logged 359,169 cases with 310,303 recoveries and 6,675 deaths. The recovery rate is more than 87 percent while the loss in lives is a low 1.9 percent. These figures are interpreted by the DOH as favorable, and thus the IATF is given to further relaxing the quarantine restrictions especially those about the gathering of people, whether for religious, professional, or educational purposes.

    Duque told the President in Filipino: “If we look at the slide in our national epidemic curve, our cases continue to drop because of our Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-and-Reintegrate strategies under the National Action Plan that you approved as well as the people’s observance of minimum public health standards. In addition, our growth rate is stable.”

    While Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Action Plan against COVID-19, agreed with Duque on improvements in the fight against the respiratory disease in regions such as Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon, he had to admit the fact that infections have surged in Baguio City, Ilagan City in Isabela, and Bukidnon in Mindanao. If they care to take notice of the facts provided by private researchers of the OCTA Research Group, they will have to include Bauan, Batangas, Calbayog City in Western Samar, and General Trias, Cavite in this high-risk list.

    If it is any consolation, the government panel called Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) will visit a wide swath of provinces like La Union, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Laguna, Palawan, Cebu, Leyte, and Negros Occidental to check on how local government units are responding to the pandemic. Also, since there is a serious COVID-19 outbreak in Sabah, Malaysia, the government team will go to Tawi-Tawi to ensure that the coronavirus 2019 will not cross the border and infect our brothers in the South.

    In the face of these developments, it looks wise to support the Metro Manila mayors in their recommendation to extend the general community quarantine (GCQ) in the National Capital Region until the end of the year.