DOH admits: ‘A lot of gaps’ in COVID-19 response
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health admitted on Wednesday that there have been “a lot of gaps” in its handling of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, but added that these blunders are not just about Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said this in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel amid calls for Duque to resign over supposed lapses in his leadership at the DOH amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The secretary has been working so hard since the start. He has been able to guide the whole DOH into this response,” Vergeire said.
“Even though there have been a lot of gaps—we all know that—it’s not just the Secretary. But also this is not just really DOH’s fight. It is the fight of the whole country, the fight of the whole government,” she added.
The official also said that it would be disadvantageous for the government and the country to change the leadership at the health department in the middle of the pandemic.
She said that “we should all move forward,” help each other and perform our individual responsibilities to curb the spread of the virus.
“We support the Secretary. His leadership has brought us here where we are now, where we have done a lot already for this response,” Vergeire pointed out.
Amid public criticism of the Philippines’ response efforts to contain COVID-19, she also explained that no government has ever prepared to deal with the pandemic.
“So hopefully all of us will move forward, all of us will support each other and all of us will help each other so that we can be able to curb the transmission and we can prevent further increase in the number of cases in the coming days,” she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly defended Duque amid mounting calls for the Health Secretary to resign, saying that the latter “did not import COVID.”
In April, several senators signed a resolution seeking the immediate resignation of Duque over his performance in handling the COVID-19 crisis.
On Tuesday, Senator Nancy Binay said: “it is high time for the Secretary to do some soul-searching if he really can do the job.”
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