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‘Reinvigorated’ fight vs COVID-19 bared; Duterte set to announce new quarantine status on Thursday

Malacañang said there will now be major changes in the government’s response against the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of people infected by the disease inches closer to the projected 85,000 cases by month’s end by the University of the Philippines (UP).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Philippines on Tuesday reported 83,673 cases of COVID-19 with 55,109 active cases, 26,617 recoveries, and 1,947 deaths.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Roque said the IATF already has a recommendation to President Duterte but there will still be appeals by local government units (LGUs) that need to be finalized.

He said the President will make the announcement on Thursday.

“I can’t announce it because the President will be the one to make the announcement on Thursday if I’m not mistaken,” he said.

“There are still appeals to be made by local government units so the recommendations are all preliminary subject to finalization on Thursday,” he added.

Roque, however, said that things will not be the same in how the government will address COVID-19.

“Things will not be the same. There will be major changes in our response to the pandemic,” he said.

Reinvigorated fight

According to Roque, the Philippines now has the capability to do what it wanted to do from the very beginning of the global health crisis.

“It’s not so much the classification that will matter but the responses—the new, invigorated responses that we will have against the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“The people will now see the difference in the response that we will have. It is now thoroughly invigorated. Part of it is we’ve built capacity, and now we have the capacity to do what we wanted from the very beginning,” he added.

The Palace official said the reinvigorated response against COVID-19 involves intensified testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment.

Intensified testing

Roque said the government will use its capacity to conduct more and cheaper testing on a daily basis, more than the 30,000 testings a day that it can already do.

“Massive, massive targeted testing involving pooled testing that will multiply our actual testing by 10 and will reduce the cost of PCR testing to as low as P300 per person,” he said.

“So the people will see that there will be expanded targeted testing beyond numbers that they probably would not have imagined,” he added.

The average cost of PCR testing is around P3,000 and it can go down to as low as P300 with pooled testing where one kit will be used to test 10 individuals.

“We will have pilot testing immediately after the new classifications are announced and this will be a joint effort of the government and the private sector through the Project ARK,” he said.

Intensified tracing

According to Roque, the government has reinvigorated its tracing using the method of tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong that will hopefully allow the Philippines to trace contacts of infected persons up to the third degree like what Thailand and Vietnam did.

He said the government will not just rely on those paid to become tracers but on volunteers as well.

“We are going to build an army of volunteers courtesy of training material to be provided by Mayor Magalong so that we can intensify testing hopefully as Thailand and Vietnam did up to the third degree of tracing,” he said.

The Palace official said the government is also eyeing to tap broadcast networks to devote one of their programs to train individuals on how they can effectively become tracers.

Intensified isolation

Roque said the government will build more isolation facilities, reiterating that mild and asymptomatic patients cannot stay home unless they have their own bedroom and bathroom. 

He added that the government will convert the mega drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija as a mega isolation facility.

“We are looking at another mega isolation facility which is the facility in Nueva Ecija which used to be the drug rehab center that’s going to open soon and we’re looking at more isolation facilities even in Metro Manila,” he said.

Intensified treatment

The government, according to Roque, will likewise rationalize hospital beds and ICU beds.

“If the hospital beds and ICU beds in Metro Manila are at a critical level, we will tap even the bed capacity of neighboring regions III and IV-A to refer patients to their vacant ICU or hospital beds,” he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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