Crucial questions on health crisis remain unanswered
MANILA, Philippines — With just a week left before the Luzon-wide lockdown is scheduled to be lifted, a lot of crucial questions on the health crisis have been left unanswered.
The Department of Health (DOH) is still unable to say what is the current picture of the COVID-19 situation, particularly in the National Capital Region, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country which accounts for more than half of the total cases.
The DOH has conducted daily briefings since the start of the enhanced community quarantine, but for the most part, to announce new cases, donations made and the like, as well as to answer the public’s frequently asked questions.
Incisive queries or clarifications on health policies implemented by the administration often do not get answered.
Because the media isn’t given the leeway to ask and press authorities for details on their health policies or lack thereof, the public in effect does not get the real score of the health crisis.
In contrast, in the United States where the spread of the virus is most pronounced, journalists are not limited in what they can ask authorities.
This week, some of the questions that did not see the light of day include those that ask the science behind the decision on whether to extend or lift the lockdown, the condition of front-liners, the quality of care provided to patients and protection to health care workers.
Malacañang claimed last weekend that the lockdown was slowing down the spread of the virus. Thus, the DOH was asked what the Palace’s scientific basis was, especially when days before it had maintained that the new cases were an “artificial increase” due to the arrival of more test kits, which boosted the country’s testing capacity.
Such a statement from Malacañang evidently provided a sense of relief to a weary public that is waiting for the lockdown to be finally over given the slow pace of distribution of relief assistance.
That hope was, however, doused on Friday when the DOH admitted that “it is clear to us that the number of COVID-19 cases has yet to go down.”
Thus, it remains unclear what the current picture is and what the trend is going to be in the next few weeks, based on the DOH’s modeling estimates.
To date, the DOH has yet to respond to repeated queries on whether it has already resolved its backlog in testing possible cases.
Such information is necessary as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III pointed out that the data they have would not be reflective of the country’s actual COVID-19 situation if the backlog had not been zeroed out.
The DOH has also not provided any information on how many health workers have died, been hospitalized or been placed under quarantine in the past month due to their exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.
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