MANILA, Mar 9 (Mabuhay) — The country does not need to go into full-scale lockdown even amid the surge of COVID-19 cases as this could be addressed in other ways, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday.
Roque cited that there are 60% to 75% available beds in intensive care units, isolation facilities and hospital wards for COVID-19 patients, and that 77% of ventilators were unused as of March 7.
“For the month of March, it is uncalled for,” he said during a Palace briefing when asked whether the country should revert to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which shuts down all industries except essential sectors such as food and medicine.
“Handa po tayong gamutin ang mga magkakasakit. Meron pong available na beds, at inatasan na po natin ang mga local government units na paigtingin ang compliance sa minimum public health standards, contact tracing, testing, at may kapangyarihan po sila na magpatupad ng localized lockdown,” Roque added.
Former Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit agreed, saying that the surge of cases—which has reached 3,000 per day for the past three days—came with increased mobility of people and not necessarily due to new variants of coronavirus.
“The surge is due to drop in compliance of minimum public health standards and increased mobility, so we have to make sure that anybody who goes out comply with minimum public health standards because that will impact on stopping transmission,” he said.
“On ECQ, I don’t want to say we should do it because of its economic impact. We should not close everything again,” Dayrit added.
The former Health secretary said that unlike during the surge in July to August last year when the government had to tighten quarantine protocols due to increased cases, the main difference in the situation now is the presence of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Compared with last year, meron na tayong vaccine. We should accelerate our vaccination, compared with compliance with the minimum public health standards,” Dayrit said.
“Kailangan paspasan ‘yan [vaccination],” Dayrit added.
The Philippines started its COVID-19 vaccination program last March 1.
At least 1.12 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to the Philippines so far.
Of this number, 600,000 doses were Sinovac donated by the Chinese government while 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines were donated by wealthy nations and firms under the COVAX facility which is a global facility aiding low and middle income countries in their pandemic response. (MNS)