Palace: Lockdown slowing spread of virus
MANILA, Philippines — The monthlong quarantine imposed by the government on the entire island of Luzon has helped to slow the spread of the new coronavirus in the Philippines, Malacañang said on Sunday.
Disputing claims that the lockdown has been ineffective as shown by increasing confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, echoing the Department of Health (DOH), said the rise in new cases was the result of more testing enabled by the acquisition of more testing kits.
“Some quarters expressed the opinion that [the increase in the number] of COVID-19 cases shows [the Luzon quarantine] is ineffective [in curbing the spread of the virus]. We beg to disagree,” Panelo said.
Had the Luzon quarantine not been imposed, he said, the number of coronavirus cases would have been staggering.
“[W]ith unrestricted movement of population, with each individual being a potential carrier, the coronavirus would have an untrammeled leap-frogging from one person to another,” Panelo said.
The DOH reported on Sunday 343 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 1,418. It said three more patients had died, raising the death toll to 71. It also reported seven recoveries, bringing the total to 42.
The agency, however, did not say whether the remaining 1,305 were all in Metro Manila or scattered across the country.
Panelo said the smaller number of cases earlier was due to the lack of testing kits. Now, with more testing kits, more people are being tested and “necessarily the hitherto unknown cases of COVID-19 have surfaced, hence the galloping increase in number,” he said.
He gave the assurance, however, that the government is doing everything to “contain, if not permanently halt, the spread of [the coronavirus].”
He said vital medical supplies, including protective equipment and sanitizers, were coming in from local manufacturers and donors.
Not only P500
The DOH said that as of Sunday, 690 medical workers had answered the government’s call for volunteers in the fight against the coronavirus.
At the same time, the DOH reiterated its apology for causing a misimpression with its offer of P500 daily allowance to volunteers, saying the amount was only provisional as it was based on the volunteer program for outbreak response implemented in 2019.
“No amount would ever be equal to the service you have committed to render our countrymen as you prepare to support other health-care workers already [on] the front lines,” the DOH said in a statement.
In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said volunteers would receive special wages on top of the P500 daily allowance.
“Our volunteer health workers will be provided with food and a place to stay while serving and undergoing a 14-day quarantine. They will also receive daily allowance even while on quarantine,” Vergeire said.
The volunteers will also receive a special risk allowance, hazard pay and transportation allowance, she said.
As provided for in the coronavirus response law passed last week by Congress, the medical expenses of volunteers who will get COVID-19 while in service will be shouldered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. Volunteers who will get sick will receive P100,000 in compensation. If they die, their families will receive P1 million. INQ
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