Cooperative front needed

Cooperative front needed

Column: Thoughts by Armenio Manuel

Filipinos, if they must win the battle against the highly infectious and deadly coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, must cooperate with each other by practicing the health protocols implemented by the government and health authorities, not just once in a while but at all times.

Middle of this week, or as we raced against the publication deadline, the Philippines logged 1,453 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 492,700, as four laboratories failed to submit their data on time, according to the Department of Health.

Top cities and provinces with new cases were Quezon City, 95; Cavite, 66; Manila, 54; Davao City; and Cebu City, 44.

The DOH also reported that there were 24,478 active cases, which was 5 percent of the total number of cases. Of the active cases, 84.9 percent were mild; 6.1 percent were asymptomatic; 5.5 percent were critical; 3 percent were severe; and 0.5 percent were moderate.

Of course there have been 397 new recoveries, thru the “mass recovery adjustment,” bringing the total recoveries to 458,523, which is 93.1 percent of the total number of cases.

The DOH also reported 146 new fatalities, the highest since September 14, which brings the death toll to 9,699, which is 1.97 percent of the total cases.

The number of daily new cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines had increased during the past days, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview on GMA Network’s “Unang Hirit,” where she added one of the factors that caused the rise in the numbers was the return of all testing laboratories to full operations after a break during the Christmas holidays.

“For these past days, the cases have really increased. We will see more than 1,000. And even the other day, there were 2,000. Yesterday [Tuesday], 1,500),” she said.

Post-holiday surge

Malacañang admitted on Monday there was a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases in the country but stressed the situation remained “manageable.”

However, the current figures are limited. The clinical symptoms and the impact of the vaccine still need to be confirmed by research.

According to Vergeire, the DOH had to observe the number of daily new cases for a week to determine if there is an increasing trend of infections.

“Maybe about a week more monitoring. We need to look at a seven-day trend before we can really say, conclusively, that the case is really going up here in our country,” she said.

And while the government is preparing strategies to achieve its target of securing 148 million doses of vaccines and inoculating 70 million Filipinos by the end of 2021, we hear from the chief implementer of the National Task Force on COVID-10, Carlito Galvez Jr., a voice that should be listened to.

Galvez said Filipinos may see some sense of normalcy by 2023 if the country takes a unified front to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, an official leading the immunization effort against the disease as the country remained under quarantine nearly a year since it was imposed in March last year.

We hear Galvez’s saying the mass vaccination against the novel coronavirus requires engaged government agencies and the private sector, “highly committed” local officials, a supportive academe, a well-prepared health care system, and adequately informed communities.

“It is only through this that we can implement a sustainable immunization program to recover the economy and restore normalcy in the lives of the Filipino people by 2023 through our bayanihan spirit,” he told a public briefing.

Negotiations with seven manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines have been “successful,” said Galvez, a former military general.

OCTA research

Earlier, the OCTA Research Team warned the government of a possible “significant surge” in new cases in the National Capital Region in the next few weeks after the increased social gatherings during the holidays.

In their latest report, the team said the likelihood of the new coronavirus variant initially detected in the United Kingdom being already present in the Philippines – initial reports suggested the variant has been discovered in Kamuning, Quezon City – may contribute to the possible surge.

Also, the research team added that “super spreader” events such as the Feast of the Black Nazarene could worsen the COVID-19 situation in the country.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned – and we find not a pugnacious muscle in the warning — it would be difficult for the government to achieve  its target of securing 148 million doses of vaccines and inoculating 70 million Filipinos by the end of 2021.

He described the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, using a Tagalog idiom as “suntok sa buwan” or a distant jab to the moon, due to stumbling blocks.

This developed as Sen. Panfilo Lacson himself said it was not fair for some in government to say Filipinos cannot choose their vaccines, at least from those made available by the government.

He said it’s bad enough that the national government virtually controls which brand/s of vaccines to procure.

Former Vice President Jejomar Binay himself has joined those who have urged the Duterte administration to assure the people instead of scolding them for being reluctant to be vaccinated, especially with vaccines from China.

We add our voice to his declaration that what the government should do is to allay the public’s fears with assurances — backed by scientific results — that these vaccines are safe and effective.

“It is wrong for Malacanang to equate the public’s negative reception to vaccines from China with colonial mentality or being choosy. They simply want to be assured that these vaccines — and all other vaccines regardless of country of origin — are safe and effective,” Binay said.

“They are careful, and it is the job of the government to allay their fears, not to scold them. Why is the tendency to always blame the people?” he added.

Good logic.

Matters of fact

Public health expert Dr. Tony Leachon, in an interview on ANC’s Matters of Fact, rapped Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s rermarks as “unfair” that Filipinos could not choose which brand of vaccine they would receive for free against COVID-19.

 “That’s a very unfair statement coming from the spokesperson because to me it is enshrined in the Constitution that health is a basic right and it is about wellness,” Leachon said, adding “We deserve to be choosy because we need to find the right vaccine for us based on efficacy and safety.”

Aptly said. (AI/MTVN)

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