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There's a 'Czar' for That: Gov't Sticks to COVID Strategy

The goal is to test, trace, isolate and treat.
by Clara Rosales
Jul 21, 2020
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

The Philippines is focused on its four-point strategy -- test, trace, isolate and treat -- to cap rising coronavirus infections, the chief implementer of its pandemic response said. And for every step, there's a "czar" in charge.

The plan is modeled after the responses of Japan, China and India, some of whom have flattened or tamed their respective infection curves, said Sec. Carlito Galvez. "Dahil sa lumalaking bilang ng COVID cases, kailangan po talagang matutukan po yung apat na haligi na to (Because of rising COVID cases, we should focus on these four pillars)," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently named four so-called pandemic response "czars": Bases Conversion and Development Authority President Vince Dizon (test), Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong (trace), Public Works Sec. Mark Villar (isolate) and Health Usec. Leopoldo Vega (treat).

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In tracing and testing, Galvez said not all contacts of COVID-positive patients could be found. Some patients listed up to 20 contacts while some listed as few as three, he said.

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“Nakita po nating kulang pa yung ginagawa nating testing. Dahil po karamihan, kapag nag-trace tayo, ay mababa po yung na-ttrace natin. Ibig sabihin po, merong nakakawalang positive, na gumagala po sa atin,” he said.

(We are not testing enough. We can only trace a few. This means there could be positive cases among us.).

The government plans to ramp up testing, currently at 27,000 daily. Once the daily tests reach 32,000, 4,000 to 6,000 lives could be saved, Galvez said quoting experts.

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