‘Blunder after blunder, it’s time for Duque to go,’ says Bayan
MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should already be replaced by the government now that even his fellow administration officials have “roundly repudiated” his alarming claim that the country is already in the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) asserted this Thursday, pointing out that Duque’s recent pronouncements are proof that he is not competent enough to lead the Department of Health (DOH) especially during a health crisis of this magnitude.
“Duque’s ‘second wave’ comments have been roundly repudiated by Palace officials, senators, and members of the medical community. It is another testament to Duque’s inability to lead the country’s pandemic response as it’s top health official,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said in a statement.
“Duque should be replaced. His recent comment about asymptomatic COVID19 patients not being able to transmit the virus has been viewed as reckless by many in the medical community. Blunder after blunder, it’s time for Duque to go,” he added.
Earlier Wednesday, Duque told senators in a hearing on the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response that the Philippines is “actually” in the second wave of coronavirus infections at present since the first wave was deemed to have taken place in late January with the confirmation of the first three cases involving three Chinese tourists from Wuhan – the first epicenter of the COVID-19 contagion.
Duque’s claims were subsequently backed up by an epidemiology expert, Dr. John Wong, who is also part of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). Wong even said that the country’s second wave of COVID-19 outbreak peaked by the end of March.
However, Senator Panfilo Lacson and other officials of the government, including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, were not convinced that a second wave is already taking place in the country.
“Wala pa tayo sa second wave. Dinadasal natin, malakas siguro tayo magdasal. ‘Wag natin i-expect, ‘wag nating asahan pwede ba? Mahirapan tayo,” Medialdea said.
(We’re not yet experiencing a second wave. We are praying, maybe we pray too well. Let’s not expect it, please? It will be hard for us.)
This is not the first time that a call for Duque’s removal or resignation was made. Last April 16, senators signed a resolution asking for the health chief’s replacement over his alleged failure in handling the pandemic.
But Reyes also speculated whether Duque’s statements were a mere diversion to take the focus away from the absence of an aggressive mass testing program.
“The statement is a diversion. It is meant to draw away attention from the still below-target daily rate for testing. We are still far from 30,000 tests daily,” Reyes said.
“The backlog for validating positive test results also grows by the day, thus data reported does not show us the complete and accurate picture of the transmission,” he added.
As of now, DOH said the country has done tests on 207,823 individuals. But this stretches from February, even before the government placed Luzon and other areas under an enhanced community quarantine to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 that causes the harsh respiratory illness COVID-19.
DOH data shows that on May 15, over 8,500 coronavirus tests were done but this still falls short of government targets.
Health authorities said Thursday that 13,343 people in the country now have COVID-19, including 846 deaths and 3,000 recoveries. Worldwide, however, over 5 million persons have already been infected with the new virus, of which 328,242 have died while over 1.9 million managed to recover from the potentially deadly disease.
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