Prevention vital to pandemic response: Galvez

Prevention vital to pandemic response: Galvez

National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. (Screengrabbed from PCOO)

MANILA – The government’s move to invest in prevention efforts can slow down the increasing number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in the country, a ranking official said.

During a virtual presser Thursday night, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Chief Implementer of the National Policy Against Covid-19, said prevention is the best defense of the public to halt the spread of the Covid-19 within communities.

“There is truth to the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and we have seen that Covid-19 can be defeated by maximizing the compliance of the minimum health standards: wearing face masks and face shields, regular hand washing, and social distancing,” said Galvez.

He said there is a need for everyone to acquire “self-awareness, self-regulation at self-mastery” despite the health crisis.

The officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) have been visiting local government units (LGUs) to ensure smooth crisis response from the national down to the local level, he said.

By doing this, all those gaps and challenges on implementing the national action plan were determined, he said.

Visiting LGUs has been beneficial in the government’s decision-making to form a concrete plan and to address the gaps between national and local policies on the health crisis, Galvez added.

Galvez mentioned that allowing home quarantine is one of the common lapses observed by National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) during the pandemic response, which had caused the extensive local transmission of the dreaded disease in some areas.

The end-to-end system of contact tracing, the previous lacking of isolation facilities for suspected and positive cases as well as the increasing number of severe and critical cases confined in the hospitals were also determined, he said.

The government is now boosting efforts to address the widespread community transmission of the dreaded disease, he added, particularly the risks of infection within the household.

Galvez said strict compliance with the minimum health standard will be the key to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Requiring the public to wear face mask and face shield has helped the country slow down the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, he said.

However, people should not be complacent with the risks posed by the disease, he added.

Meanwhile, Galvez said the common practice of undergoing home quarantine for asymptomatic and mild cases has fueled the increase of local transmission.

“Naninindigan po tayo sa ating paniniwalang hindi makakabuti ang home quarantine sa karamihan ng mga pasyente, especially for mild or asymptomatic cases. Katulad po ng ating nasabi, sa tahanan po mabilis na kumalat ang sakit (We stand by our belief that home quarantine is not good for most patients, especially for mild or asymptomatic cases. As we said, the disease spread quickly at home,” he added, citing the government’s earlier response to discourage home quarantine by launching the Oplan Kalinga program.

The government now prefers Covid-19 patients to undergo isolation in the state-run quarantine facilities.

Galvez noted the longer that coronavirus patients stay at home, the greater the chances that other household members will be infected.

Responses to health crisis

On the other hand, Galvez said the government is keen on addressing the lack of isolation and quarantine facilities to cope with reducing the number of undergoing home quarantine and to further address the impacts of the Covid-19.

So far, the country has about 10,559 Ligtas-Covid centers with 164,256 total bed capacity, he said.

Under the Oplan Kalinga program, Galvez said the country already has 19 mega temporary treatment and management facilities with 3,031 total bed capacity at 67 percent of occupancy rate, apart from the 22 isolation hotels with 76 percent of occupancy rates.

“Madadagdagan pa po tayo ng mga Mega Quarantine facilities. Malapit na pong matapos ang Nayong Pilipino na pinondohan ni Mr. Ricky Razon na more than P275 million with 600 beds (We will add more Mega Quarantine facilities. The Nayong Pilipino funded by Mr. Ricky Razon amounting to more than PHP275 million with 600 beds is set to be completed),” he added.

More quarantine facilities in the Calabarzon region were established, he said, while the government is also working to add more Covid-19 dedicated beds in various hospitals nationwide.

By partnering with the LGUs and other private sectors, Galvez said the government was able to establish additional 1,006 Covid-19 dedicated hospital beds in East Avenue Medical Center-Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (CERID), Rizal Medical Center, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital Sanitarium, UP-Philippine General Hospital, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Quezon Institute, and Batangas Medical Center.

In addition to that, is the construction of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI)’s hemodialysis center, he said.

The facility with 200 hemodialysis machines will greatly benefit Covid-19 patients during this pandemic, Galvez added.

Galvez reiterated the second phase of the national action plan (NAP): “Under the NAP’s second phase, the government aims to strike a balance between ensuring the health of the Filipino people, while breathing life into the nation’s economy,” he said.

Galvez, meanwhile, noted the significant roles of the LGUs in implementing the country’s preventive measure against the Covid-19.

“Naniniwala kami na kahit na anong ganda ng mga polisiya mula sa nasyonal na pamahalaan, ay walang bisa pa rin ang mga ito kung hindi maayos at epektibong maipapatupad ng mga local government units (We believe that no matter how good the national government’s policies, these will be ineffective when it is not properly and efficiently implemented by the LGUs),” he said.

He added that people’s participation in pandemic response is also vital.

“This is the reason why strong and decisive leadership among LGUs from the governor, mayor, barangay officials, and medical professionals are needed, especially in implementing measures that will require the support of all members of the community,” Galvez said. (PNA)

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