Senators call for stricter health protocols, swift vaccine delivery as COVID-19 cases surge
MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Monday called for stricter implementation of health protocols, the need for information campaign, and accelerated delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to address the surge of coronavirus cases in the country.
“Stricter implementation of health protocols. We have become too complacent,” Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said in a text message to reporters when asked about the sudden spike of infections, specially in Metro Manila.
Because of this surge, Sotto said it is not yet safe to place the entire country under the least general community quarantine, as earlier proposed by metro mayors and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, said the “alarming surge” of COVID-19 cases must be addressed with accelerated delivery of vaccines to health workers and other priority groups.
“We should vaccinate faster than the virus can spread,” she said in a statement.
“The challenge is to speed up and harmonize processes to ensure that all Filipinos will have an access to the vaccine to banish COVID-19 and help steady the economic ship,” Poe added.
Senators Sonny Angara and Panfilo Lacson, in separate statements, found the spike of cases “alarming.”
“It is very alarming and we need to take extra precautions once more; many have let their guard down and we have to go back to observing social distancing as these new variants are reportedly more infectious and require less contact time than previous variants for one to contract the new variant,” Angara said.
“There should be an information campaign on these new variants and the importance of staying and being (even more) careful,” he added.
Lacson said the surge “should concern our health authorities.”
“Aside from the existing health protocols which Filipinos have already grown accustomed to, contact tracing is key — first to determine the specific areas where the surges occur or are evident so that extra control measures and closer supervision can be instituted immediately.”
“This is where the role of the LGUs (local government units) becomes indispensable since they are the closest to the potential spreaders, not to mention familiarity with the people in their localities,” Lacson further said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III pointed out the need to strictly observe all health protocols to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Observe all health protocols strictly. Social distance, wearing of mask and face shield when in public, wash your hands. If not important, don’t leave home regardless of quarantine status,” Recto said.
Pimentel said all these existing health protocols, including the availability of tests and vaccinations, “should be sufficient to combat” the virus and limit its spread.
“Just like the common cold and the flu which are also caused by unseen viruses, we just have to learn to adjust our lives to the presence of the COVID-19 virus in our world. What this pandemic has taught us is to focus on the ‘essential.’ And strengthening the immune system is the most essential thing of all,” he said.
The Department of Health has been reporting more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases the past days while the OCTA Research group is projecting up to 6,000 daily cases nationwide by end of the month.
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