The government is boosting response strategies and its coping mechanisms on the risks posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, National Action Plan (NAP) on Covid-19 chief implementer, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday.
Galvez, also the presidential peace adviser, said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has designated anti-Covid czars to focus on the strategies on prevention, detection, treatment isolation, and reintegration program of the government to fight the dreaded disease.
Each anti-Covid czar is assigned to lead components on government’s measures and strategies to halt the spread of Covid-19, Galvez said.
“Once these strategies are being implemented ay bababa po ang mga [cases] at magkakarooon po tayo ng coping mechanisms para at least makakaya po natin ang Covid cases (The cases will decrease and we can now have our coping mechanisms so that we can contain Covid-19),” he said in a virtual press briefing.
Galvez cited the importance of government strategies on “testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment” in the gradual reopening of the country’s economy.
“We are expecting a spike on our Covid-19 cases [during the opening of the economy],” he said.
However, if the response strategies will be put in place, there will be a possibility that the spike may not happen and “we can reduce our cases instead.
Role of LGUs
Meanwhile, Galvez said the five strategic objectives which focus on prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, and reintegration will be implemented under the second phase of the national action plan (NAP) to fight the pandemic.
“Unang-una po ay ma-address natin ang increasing cases. Pangalawa, we have to learn from our lessons at ang dapat po, pangatlo po, ang ating mga LGUs [local government units] ay sila po talaga ang mag-lead ng ating fight against Covid (First, we should address the increasing cases. Second, we must learn from our lessons and third, our LGUs are the ones who should lead our fight against Covid),” he said.
Galvez reiterated the vital roles of the LGUs in the management of the pandemic response and the localized implementation of government measures to contain the spread of the disease within the community.
He said LGUs are capable and “proactive” to manage the stringent measures against the health crisis.
“Ito po ang ginagawa natin ay inaalalayan natin ang ating mga LGUs (This is what we are doing, we are supporting our LGUs) on how to implement the localized lockdowns,” he said.
Galvez said there is close coordination between the national government and the LGUs when it comes to the implementation of health protocols and guidelines within their areas of jurisdiction.
“Through the implementation of the localized lockdown, we can protect the economy from suffering [in the aspect of lockdowns on larger communities],” he added, citing that local executives are vested with the power to implement localized lockdowns within their areas of responsibilities.
By implementing more efficient localized lockdowns, Galvez said, the government can effectively handle the economy of areas which are tagged as “low-risk.”
“Ang maganda po nito ay nagkakaroon po ng quick response para maapula ang pagtaas ng mga kaso sa ibang areas (The good thing about that is we are having a quick response to prevent the spike of cases in other areas), he said.
Public, private referral system
Galvez, meanwhile, said the government is now implementing a “one hospital command” to carry out a proper referral system.
“Para po hindi ma-overwhelm ang ating mga hospital ay meron tayong tinatawag na public and private referral system (To avoid overwhelming hospitals, we have a public and private referral system),” he said.
The level three hospitals with dedicated Covid-19 treatment should only accept severe and critical cases, he said, while those with mild and asymptomatic patients should be transferred and treated in government quarantine facilities.
“Nagkaroon na po tayo ng lessons learned na itong mga quarantine facilities ay underutilized (We have learned our lessons that those quarantine facilities were underutilized),” he said, citing the same situation in Cebu City wherein hospitals were nearing their capacity limits because of “overwhelming admissions” of patients.
However, Galvez said the government is already addressing the issue by implementing a proper referral system, noting the country’s growing improvement in the Covid-19 situation.
He reported that the utilization of the mega quarantine facilities dedicated to Covid-19 patients is now at about 80 percent.
The government is boosting the utilization of its isolation centers, he said.
“We will create some facilities na at least tataas po ang ating ICU [intensive care unit] beds at saka ng mga isolation facilities so that we can cope just in case magkaroon po ng surge (We will create some facilities that will increase the ICU beds and the isolation facilities so that we can cope just in case there will be a surge of cases),” he said.
Galvez said there is strong coordination and cooperation among the national agencies including the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) and the IATF to expand the country’s Covid-19 isolation capacities.
Galvez said the government, led by isolation Czar and DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, is now converting some 168 evacuation facilities into Covid-19 isolation centers, where 68 are already completed.
Galvez, meanwhile, said the government is also building dormitories for the healthcare workers.
Chief tracing czar, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, is also boosting the contact tracing in the country with the use of digitalized applications and configuration tools, according to Galvez said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has committed to deploy 700 contact tracers who will work within the National Capital Region (NCR), Galvez said, while the Department of National Defense and the Philippine Army have also expressed help.
The government has allocated a budget to hire more contact tracers, he said.
With the implementation of the Bayanihan Act Phase 2, Galvez said the government vowed continuous support to health professionals and medical workers in the country by providing them enough healthcare resources including personal protective equipment (PPEs) and testing kits. (PNA)