Health Secretary Francisco Duque III thinks the Philippines is ready to transition to least stringent modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), despite the increase of COVID-19 cases and detections of its variants.
“I think we are ready. I can say that because after one year, we have managed to keep our infection rate manageable… It is at a level that has not overwhelmed the healthcare system,” he told CNN Philippines.
The DOH chief said local government units have been managing community transmission effectively, citing the increase of cases after mass gatherings during the holidays and he feast of the Black Nazarene were lower than expected.
Duque also noted that localized lockdowns, not strict community quarantines, are “the way to go.”
“You cannot discount the fact that you will have some spikes. Now we see that happening in Pasay, in Navotas, but I think the interventions of early detection, isolation, treatment, and re-integration strategies are very much in place,” Duque said.
Duque thinks PH is ready for MGCQ
Duque said the government needs to be “delicate” in balancing public health and the economy.
“We really have to move towards risk mitigation rather than risk aversion. Risk mitigation with the goal of, of course, keeping the infection rate low and when the infection rate is low, the chances for mutation are also low,” he said.
The DOH chief said he believes that the Philippines’s healthcare capacity can cope with the MGCQ.
“So far sa tingin natin kakayanin, kakayanin naman. We will never be able to know until that situation actually evolves, whether the system is ready. We’ll see… We can always escalate if the data support escalation given the metric of healthcare utilization rate, the two-week average daily attack rate, et cetera,” he said.
“Dapat ito kasi sabay sabay hanggang sa maaari. Hindi puwede sequential, ‘Ito mauuna ‘yung bakuna, tapos susunod ‘yung bukas ng ekonomiya.’ That’s not the way, it’s too narrow a perspective, I feel. This is my personal opinion. My take on this is really [a] simultaneous, broadfront approach,” he added.