Administration is ‘excellent’ in mismanaging pandemic – Zarate

COVID-19-positive Roque is 'ultimate example of pasaway', says Zarate

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate. INQUIRER.net file photo / Noy Morcoso

MANILA, Philippines — The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has been “excellent” in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic — that is, excellent in mismanaging it, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement issued on Monday after the country tallied a million confirmed cases of the disease since February 2020.

Zarate used “excellent”with an ironic twist as it the same word used by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in rating the administration’s COVID-19 response.

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“We have been fighting the pandemic for more than one year. The number of Covid cases has reached one million and it continues to rise, but still the solutions of the Duterte administration have failed,” Zarate said in Filipino.

“It’s really difficult when the people assigned to lead the fight are former military officers and not medical and health experts,” he added.

According to Zarate, the suggestion of Bayan Muna on how to beat the pandemic remain the same: Do mass testing, aggressive contact tracing, and enforce health-based solutions.

“With the still rising million cases, the most basic steps of free mass testing and pro-active and aggressive contact tracing are still wanting, among the apparent reasons for the upsurge in cases in the past months,” he said.

“We have already explained for the nth time that mass testing does not mean that all Filipinos would be Covid tested; it only means that at least 120,000 Covid testing should be done per day in the whole country or at least concentrated testing in the NCR Plus bubble, which is the epicenter of the Philippine pandemic, and the other regions where infection are high,” he added.

Earlier, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that 8,929 new COVID-19 infections had pushed the total nationwide count to 1,006,428 — a little over a year since the pandemic arrived in Philippine shores.

The relatively quick increase can be attributed to the recent surge experienced in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — areas that make up the so-called National Capital Region Plus bubble, which is currently under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), a less restrictive classification.

Recently, however, there has been a decrease in active COVID-19 cases due to a steady increase in recoveries.

As of Monday, the active cases were just at 74,623 — way lower than the over 203,000 recorded during the previous ECQ phase of the NCR Plus bubble.

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Still, Zarate worries that the country may not be testing enough, with onlh 40,000 to 50,ooo having been conducted by the DOH.

“Up till now contact tracers are still lacking and the ratio of contacts to be traced per positive case should be 1:37. This would ensure that less Covid positive cases would get thru the net and be  quarantined,” Zarate said.

“The benefits and hazard pay for health workers should also be given now because they have been long overdue and our frontliners should be well compensated for their sacrifices and for them to continue what they are doing,” he added.

Aside from that, Zarate, who is part of the House Makabayan bloc, insisted that a P10,000 cash aid should be given to households that had been hit hard  by the loss of income due to the pandemic.

The government has already given a social aid for areas under an ECQ, but it was only pegged at P1,000 per head, with a cap of P4,000 per family — which Bayan Muna said was not enough.

“Cash aid with the minimum of P10,000 should be given for those hit by the pandemic so President Duterte should call for a special session of Congress so that this can be discussed as soon as possible. In the meantime community pantries should be supported and its organizers should not be red tagged,” he said.

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