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No to a dysfunctional task force

"I cannot imagine a new chief executive taking over in nine months and relying on such a team."

 

 

Whoever it would be, we can simply hope the next president will not be groping in the dark like what the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) is doing now in response to the worst surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Politics aside, it does not matter at this point whether one is for Inday Sara, Bong Go, Bongbong, Ping Lacson, Leni Robredo, Pacquiao, Gordon, Isko, Islaw and so on. 

What should be first and foremost in the mind of each and every one of us is that the new president must have a viable plan of action to stop community transmission now occurring in many regions outside Metro Manila. 

The IATF headed by Department of Health Secretary Franciso Duque has clearly shown that it is clueless on what to do. It has repeatedly flip-flopped on enforcing lockdowns or restrictions to the detriment of businesses and people’s means of livelihood. 

On Wednesday, the IATF held back the implementation of the “granular lockdown” combined with General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and continued with the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). 

The business sector and labor groups, as well as the government economic managers, had welcomed the IATF’s approval of the pilot granular lockdown-GCQ combo, believing that it would effectively contain clusters of COVID cases in specified areas while allowing the reopening of businesses in other areas.  

With the full support of the local government units (LGUs) in providing the food and other basic needs of affected residents in lockdown areas, the Philippine National Police (PNP) can control people’s mobility and healthcare workers can conduct mass testing and isolating COVID patients. 

Unfortunately, the IATF did not get the President’s approval as the panel failed to come up with the “final guidelines” for the pilot’s implementation. Thus, the plan was cancelled at the last minute. 

The IATF must realize that we are racing against time as both the DOH and OCTA research group project a grim scenario in the coming months.

I cannot imagine a new chief executive taking over in nine months and relying on a task force as dysfunctional as the current IATF in the face of a catastrophic new wave of Covid-19, exacerbated by the more contagious and more dangerous Delta variant.  

We need to step up our vaccination program in Metro Manila and surrounding regions.  

Just a little more than half of the target population of Metro Manila is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Wednesday.

That means only 52 percent or about five million residents have completed the vaccine doses while 82 percent or about eight million residents have received at least one dose as of September 5.

The government target is to inoculate 10 million in NCR to achieve “population protection” in the epicenter Metro Manila to stem community transmission and revive the economy.

Several LGUs have, in fact, begun administering COVID jabs to non-residents after reaching their local vaccination targets.

Over 15 million Filipinos nationwide are fully vaccinated while 21 million have received at least one dose as of September 5.  The government target is to vaccinate 75 million to attain herd immunity.

I tend to agree with President Duterte that while the number of COVID patients is rather notably high, at least 90 percent of total COVID-19 cases are mild.

Perhaps, Duque can explain where these figures are coming from and what factors contribute to the “mass recoveries” of COVID patients if only to give us hope for a return to normalcy someday soon. 

The President also congratulated Duque for the "low" number of COVID deaths compared to other countries.  

But, each and every human life lost to COVID-19 is precious and irreplaceable. The death toll of 34,672 as of last Wednesday September 8 is way too high.

Topics: IATF , COVID-19 , Department of Health , Franciso Duque , OCTA research group
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