Lacson doubts lifting of lockdown before June
MANILA, Philippines — The government’s stay-at-home order in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon may have to be imposed until the middle of this year as the Department of Health (DOH) has yet to fully account for all people infected with the new coronavirus, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday.
“The [health experts] say that the substantial results of the research for developing a vaccine for COVID-19 may come in June at the earliest,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
“If that will be our basis, I cannot see how we can lift the lockdown earlier than June,” he added.
DOH daily report ‘misleading’
Lacson played down the claim of the DOH that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines is decreasing, saying the number of tests being done every day is not sufficient to show the actual rate of transmission of the highly contagious virus.
“The DOH is only saying the numbers of deaths, recoveries and patients who tested positive for [the coronavirus]. The information is not sufficient. So their report is misleading,” he said.
“While it [is] not intentional, we are being misled into believing that the [people] positive for the virus are just [more than] 7,000. I don’t think so. The number could be more than that,” he said.
As of Sunday, the Philippines had 7,579 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the DOH reporting 285 additional cases, 183 more than the 102 reported on Saturday.
The DOH, however, did not explain whether the additional cases were people who caught the coronavirus during the last 24 hours or tests from its backlog whose results returned positive during the same period. Without an explanation, it is hard to say whether the virus is spreading as the DOH may just be reducing its backlog.
The DOH said seven more patients had died, raising the toll to 501.
But 70 more patients had recovered, the DOH said, pushing the number of survivors to 862.
RITM back in business
Meanwhile, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the country’s principal testing center for the coronavirus, has resumed full operations after going through disinfection, as 40 of its employees have caught the virus.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Sunday that no more RITM employee was in hospital, although two were still in quarantine.
On Saturday, the DOH said 31 of the infected employees had recovered from the disease.
Vergeire also said on Sunday that the DOH continues to provide technical assistance to the Marikina city government to qualify its molecular diagnostic laboratory and expand the government’s testing capacity for the coronavirus.
She said the Marikina laboratory was now at Stage 4 of the five-stage accreditation process.
—REPORTS FROM MARLON RAMOS AND TINA G. SANTOS INQ
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