Roque defends lockdown, says 100,000 lives saved
MANILA, Philippines — Even if the number of COVID-19 cases is rising, the Philippines is actually doing better in its fight against the disease because the number of people testing positive for the causative virus is lower and the case doubling time is seven days, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Roque defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to place Luzon on lockdown in mid-March.
He said the lockdown, which was gradually eased in the succeeding weeks, had saved lives and produced other good results.
The government’s actions were based on science, Roque said.
More than 10,000 tests a day
According to Roque, the country’s testing capacity has improved as it can now conduct more than 10,000 tests a day.
And the positivity rate, or the number of people testing positive for the new coronavirus, is 5 percent, he said.
The number of deaths over time is also going down, he added.
The case doubling time, which indicates the speed at which the virus spreads, is also now seven days, which means there is basis to relax quarantine restrictions.
As for critical care use, he said that nationally, only a little above a third of intensive care, isolation and ward beds were occupied, and only 19 percent of mechanical ventilators were used.
Still, the number of COVID-19 cases is going up, and this is not limited to the Philippines, Roque said.
He cited the report of the World Health Organization that the pandemic is accelerating. This means that despite an easing of restrictions, people must continue to stay home as much as possible and follow health measures such as wearing protective masks, he said.
On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 630 additional coronavirus infections, taking the national caseload to 30,682. Of those cases, the DOH said 467 were fresh, or patients who tested positive in the last three days, and 163 were late, or patients whose positive results were released four days ago or earlier.
Of the fresh cases, the DOH said 149 were from Metro Manila, 164 from Central Visayas, and the rest spread across the country.
Of the late cases, 25 were from Metro Manila, 93 from Central Visayas, and 45 from different parts of the country.
The DOH reported that 250 more patients had recovered, raising the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 8,143.
But the death toll increased to 1,177 with eight more patients succumbing to the severe respiratory disease. Only two of the eight fatalities died in June, the DOH said.
In defending the Luzon lockdown, Roque cited Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III as quoting the World Bank praising Mr. Duterte for saving 100,000 lives with his decisiveness.
“They said had we not imposed the lockdown when we did, 100,000 people could have been killed,” Roque said.
While many lost their livelihood, there are various government programs to assist them, he added.
Roque also cited a Social Weather Stations survey that showed 84 percent of Filipinos believed the strict stay-at-home orders were worth it.
“So the people have spoken, and the lockdown we imposed was correct,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS INQ
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