Duterte key to fewer COVID cases in PH vs rest of SE Asia – Duque
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership and the Filipinos’ strict adherence to health protocols have led to the Philippines’ having fewer COVID-19 cases compared to other Southeast Asian countries, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Monday during the taped weekly “Talk to the People” briefing.
Duterte had asked Duque, who was making his presentation, why the Philippines had fewer COVID-19 cases compared to Singapore, which had more resources and was known for its disciplined populace.
“Sir, one differentiator we have compared to many of these countries, I should like to believe, is our very good compliance to minimum public health standards — Filipinos were wearing masks,” Duque said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“They were really following [the rules], Mr. President, unlike the others… especially when already had high vaccination rate, they just threw caution to the wind,” he said.
“So I think that is one distinct difference that we have manifested compared to other countries in Southeast Asia,” he added.
Duque also thinks Duterte had a hand in compliance with the rules.
“I think your leadership has been good — in your weekly reminders to the public. And they have seen consistency in your reminders, and they are appreciative by way of a more disciplined compliance with our minimum health standards,” Duque said.
Duterte raised his questions after Duque showed a graph illustrating the COVID-19 cases per one million people in Southeast Asian countries: Singapore had 3,237.55 cases while the Philippines had 8.82.
Other Southeast Asian countries also had higher new confirmed cases per a million population than the Philippines: Vietnam had 1,366.39, Malaysia 845.10, and Thailand 362.59.
Duque initially said that vaccinations were a key factor, but Duterte noted that the other countries could afford the vaccines more than the Philippines.
Duque explained that other countries had more cases now because the Philippines had a surge in cases caused by the Omicron-variant earlier than its Southeast Asian neighbors.
“The number of their cases will also go down. We just had a spike earlier last January,” Duque said.
“And our cases started to go down until today. In fact, our reported cases for today are only 70. This is the fifth straight day that we have reported below 1,000 cases per day. So the next reason, Mr. President, is the protection from natural infection — natural immunity,” he went on.
“Remember, Mr. President, we’ve had about five surges already, including the most recent which is Omicron. And this means so many of our countrymen have already been infected. But luckily, most of our infections were mild. And there were those who were asymptomatic. And both, in fact, account for 92 to 94 percent of all our cases,” he added.
The number of COVID-19 cases nationwide has been going down after the surge early last January. This prompted the government to put several areas, including Metro Manila, under Alert Level 1 — the lowest COVID-19 restriction in the country’s system.