Senator Risa Hontiveros pushed for additional funds in the 2021 National Budget of the Department of Health (DOH) for the immediate rebuilding of COVID-19 testing and isolation facilities that were damaged by the recent typhoons. The senator said that these facilities remain ‘crucial’ to our COVID-19 response.
Hontiveros said that the additional DOH budget would go to rebuilding typhoon-hit facilities in Bicol Region considered ‘completely non-functional’. Areas that lost their facilities (Camaries Sur, Albay, Camarines Norte) also had the highest number of infections in the region, she added.
“Testing and isolation are two of the most important steps in our fight against COVID-19. Any delay in the restoration of these facilities could be a major setback in our progress. The additional budget means there should be no excuses for inaction,” she said. “Wag nating hayaan maging COVID-19 hotspots ang mga lugar na hirap din makabangon sa mga dumaang bagyo.”
Hontiveros said the seeming decrease in cases as shown by the DOH COVID-19 tracker is ‘worrisome’ and is an indicator of incomplete reporting. “Bumababa lang ang reported cases sa typhoon-hit areas dahil bulag tayo pag wala o kulang ang testing centers. Doble doble talaga ang laban sa mga lugar na ito,” Hontiveros said.
“Without active testing and functioning quarantine facilities in the areas, it is possible for COVID-19 to be passed around undetected and rapidly. Lalo na nagsisiksikan ang mga tao sa evacuation centers, napakadelikado nito,” she added.
“Many of these areas remain devastated, and up to now are still experiencing hard rainfall. Lahat na ang nawala sa kanila. Protektahan natin sila sa pandemyang ito,” she concluded.