PH lockdown most rigid in the region but failed to reduce COVID-19 cases

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    ‘The article noted that countries that implemented less severe measures to control public mobility like Taiwan (2.16 percent decline in public mobility), South Korea (11.0 percent), Japan (13.83 percent), Vietnam (29.5 percent), and Thailand (31.66 percent) are significantly doing better in terms of bringing down the number of their daily new cases.’

    THE revelation by Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque that the government has not achieved its target of mass testing during the past two months of strict quarantine is another proof that lockdown is not an effective measure in the fight against COVID-19 if it does not go hand in hand with effective health measures.

    A Nikkei Asian Review report confirms this, showing that although the Duterte government imposed the strictest lockdown compared to other countries in the region, even more rigid than India, the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

    The Nikkei Asian Review compiled Google’s data on six categories of public mobility (retail and recreation; grocery stores and pharmacies; parks; transit stations; workplaces; and residential areas).

    The study showed the Duterte administration brought down public mobility by 85 percent in transit stations; by 79 percent in retail and recreation; and by 71 percent in workplaces. India ranked second with an average decline in public mobility by 47.83 percent.

    “The fact that daily cases are still rising in India and just plateauing in the Philippines also raises the question of how much even the tightest lockdowns can achieve in densely populated countries,” the article written by Akane Okutsu and Mitsuru Obe said.

    The claim of some Philippine public health officials that the COVID-19 cases are “plateauing” is even contested by other health experts.

    The article noted that countries that implemented less severe measures to control public mobility like Taiwan (2.16 percent decline in public mobility), South Korea (11.0 percent), Japan (13.83 percent), Vietnam (29.5 percent), and Thailand (31.66 percent) are significantly doing better in terms of bringing down the number of their daily new cases.

    South Korea and Taiwan examples showed the effective use of technology in tracing those who had contacts with one who has been found positive of the virus. There’s also the aspect of “widespread willingness to sacrifice privacy.”

    Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN Philippines’ Pinky Webb, Roque clarified the misimpression he created in his briefing the other day that the government has no program yet to conduct mass testing due to lack of resources and it’s up to private sector to undertake their own tests.

    Roque said, “Now perhaps the better term is not mass testing but it should be targeted testing because I think it’s physically impossible to test 110 million but we’re aiming to test, also using statistics as a science 1.5 to 2 percent of our population.”

    Roque further said, “Until now, we are aiming to test 30,000 persons a day which is similar to what South Korea is doing and admittedly we’re still far from that. But that’s why we’re rushing the building of labs.”

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