The government is recalibrating its past strategies and response on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic into better versions to improve the health crisis situation in the country.
Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., National Action Plan (NAP) on Covid-19 chief implementer, on Thursday said the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) are focusing on the improvement of the country’s pandemic situation.
Galvez, also the presidential peace adviser, said the government has already reassessed Covid-19 response measures to manage local transmission.
“Ang pagkukulang po tinatama na natin at saka ‘yung mga comments at suggestions ng ibang mga (We are correcting lapses and the comments and suggestions from the) healthcare workers and medical professionals––is really, we take into considerations,” Galvez said in a virtual interview with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Citing the government’s past experiences in Cebu City, Galvez said the lack of enough isolation facilities has led to a sharp spike of coronavirus cases.
During that time, he said, some local government units did not strictly enforce isolation protocols, which contributed to the sudden surge of Covid-positive patients.
“About 1,900 individuals have been subjected to home quarantine in Cebu, yet when we implemented strict isolation rules, we have seen a vast improvement on the crisis situation,” he said in Filipino, citing the UP OCTA Research Team could prove that cases have decreased and the city’s “critical care” for the Covid-19 patients was organized.
“The cases have decreased as well as the fatality rate,” he added.
Galvez said cases in Cebu slowed down due to recalibration of the government’s action plan and response strategies on the pandemic.
He reiterated that the home quarantine system could cause a spike of coronavirus cases.
Galvez, meanwhile, said the implementation of a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) has also contributed to the sudden escalation of Covid-19 cases.
“During the GCQ, as we open our economy, I believe there were also violations [of health protocols] that led to contaminations in some areas of workplaces such as canteen, shuttle services, and in the smoking areas,” he said.
“As we see that, we are now correcting the mistakes and lapses in the past [execution of health protocols],” he added.
Sufficient testing kits, PPEs
On the other hand, Galvez said the country still has sufficient test kits.
He said the government has already bought around eight million testing kits and another two million are set to arrive for stocking.
Galvez said the government, however, is having some trouble with importing GeneXpert testing kits (automated molecular test for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19).
As a solution, Galvez said the government has entered into negotiations with suppliers so that “we can purchase additional extraction kits”.
“We wrote a letter addressed to the US embassy so that we can have the access to more supplies of GeneXpert,” he said, noting that the country has given only 5,500 supplies per week so far.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said the country has been using the GeneXpert system in diagnosing tuberculosis among Filipinos.
Using the GeneXpert, Galvez said the system could provide results within 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, Galvez said there is still about one million personal protective equipment (PPE) sets stocked for future purposes, while another five million are for procurement.
He added that the government is also purchasing treatment machines for critical and severe coronavirus patients.
“We are also buying supplies of high flow cannula, a treatment therapy used for severe and critical patients so that they will not undergo intubation anymore,” he said.
The High Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) therapy is a form of non-invasive respiratory support and offers resistance against the expiratory flow and increases the airway pressure.
Galvez said the government will purchase 250 more cannulas.
He added that the San Miguel corporation has already donated 105 nasal cannulas, while the country is also set to receive donations from Singapore and South Korea.
“Nakipag-uganayan na po kami sa iba pang pharmaceutical companies para maging maganda na po yung supply chain ng ating mga testing facilities tsaka yung mga tinatawag natin consumables (We are now coordinating with other pharmaceutical companies to improve the supply chain of our testing facilities and other consumables),” Galvez said.
Galvez said the government is also preparing incidental expenses “just in case the Covid-19 vaccines arrive.” (PNA)