Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Philippines has the highest number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Southeast Asia because it is also the country with the highest testing rate in the region.
In The Filipino Times’ live streaming on Facebook titled ‘TFT Usapang OFW: Tulong at Serbisyo para sa bawat OFW mula kay Pangulong Duterte’, the spokesperson said the country’s testing rate has even surpassed South Korea and Japan.
He also said that the current figures do not mean the country actually has higher cases than Indonesia, which it has recently surpassed.
“Indonesia kasi bagamat doble ang populasyon niya, eh one-third lamang ng testing na ginagwa Pilipina ang nagawa ng Indonesia. Ibig sabihin mas madaming positive na gumagala-gala sa Indonesia pero hindi nila alam na positibo sila,” he said.
The spokesperson also cited that in terms of the per-million bases of COVID-19 cases, Singapore still has the highest figures—with 55,497 as of this writing. He noted that the small nation only has six million cases and when divided to 1 million, its per-million basis stands at over 4,000. In the Philippines, Roque said the per-million basis is only at 1,000.
He, however, admitted that tracing is the country’s weakest link, a reason local government units are now being trained on how to efficiently do contact tracing.
Aside from teaching the LGUs to do the 1-in-37 method of contact tracing, Roque said the government is now dealing with isolation through the help of Department of Education (DepEd)—in which the department has allowed half of the schools in Metro Manila to be used as quarantine facilities.
“Habang pinapaigting ang ating testing, malalaman natin kung sino ang mga positive, i-a-isolate natin sila, i-t-trace ang mga nakahalubilo nila. In the near future, I think mapapababa ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa Pilipinas,” he said.
The spokesperson also shared developments between the collaboration of the Philippines and Russia regarding the newly announced COVID-19 vaccine.
He said officials from the manufacturer Gamaleya Research Institute and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) have agreed to jointly subject volunteers to the third phase of the clinical trial for the said shot within the year. He added that the earliest period in which President Rodrigo Duterte is targeted to get the shot is on May 1, 2020.
MECQ and GCQ, until when?
In terms of the quarantine status in the Philippines, Roque said lifting it depends on the case doubling rate at critical care capacity of the Philippines.
The spokesperson said that while the critical care capacity is still at 50 percent occupancy, they plan to inaugurate 250 more beds in the COVID-19 facilities of East Avenue Medical Center on August 17 in order to ease the burden on the health workers.
“Walang katapusan ‘yan hanggang hindi makakuha ng bakuna at gamut. Bagamat sabi ng Pangulo, kailangan na maghanap-buhay. Kailangan talaga mga Pilipino mabuhay sa kabila ng COVID-19. Kaya’t ingatan ang ating buhay para lahat ay makapaghanapbuhay,” he stressed.