Locsin blames virus surge on ‘health bureaucrats’
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. blames the resurgence of the new coronavirus in the Philippines on “health bureaucrats,” who, he claims, have wasted the gains of the lockdown imposed in March to halt the spread in the country of the COVID-19 pathogen.
From more than 600 to over 1,000 new cases every day in June, the Philippines now sees up to more than 2,000 new infections daily, with the Department of Health (DOH) blaming the surge on Filipinos’ failure to comply with minimum public health standards following the relaxation of quarantine restrictions on July 1 to reopen the economy.
Maria Ressa, president and CEO of the news site Rappler, last week said the lockdown was wasted.
Locsin tweeted his agreement on Saturday, saying the waste had been accepted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the temporary government body overseeing the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Yes, it was wasted; that’s accepted by [the task force]; partly paralysis partly self-satisfied health bureaucrats—none competent epidemiologists from say Harvard,” Locsin said.
He said the Philippines “was among [the] first to realize” the coronavirus onslaught in January, “but turned over solution to health bureaucrats—the inert merchants of death. Fuck it.”
Dismissing Ressa’s claim that the Philippines would have fared better had President Duterte ordered a travel ban on China earlier, Locsin said other governments “with vast resources that responded massively first are swamped by another deadlier wave.”
“Our response—total lockdown—worked, saved lives,” Locsin said.
Malacañang on Sunday described critics of the government’s coronavirus response as people who “cannot see the forest for the trees.”
“We find it unfortunate that some quarters cannot seem to see the forest for the trees when they cite the cumulative number of cases and blatantly ignore the rest of the COVID-19 data,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement, which the Palace called a “general response” to critics of the administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
As of Sunday, the Philippines had 67,456 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the addition of 2,241 new infections. The DOH reported 398 new recoveries, bringing the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 22,465, and 58 fatalities, raising the death toll to 1,831. That left 43,160 active cases.
“It is worth mentioning that there is tremendous increase in the number of recoveries and a sharp decline in the number of deaths,” Roque said.
On Friday, Roque said the government’s coronavirus strategy was “working.”
He said in a television interview that millions of Filipinos would have fallen sick had the government not imposed a lockdown in March.
“It’s working because only a small number died from the disease,” he said.
—With reports from Tina G. Santos and Julie M. Aurelio
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