Hontiveros to Duque, COVID czars: Where is the pandemic contingency plan for new variant?
“Hindi pwedeng maging in denial sa banta ng bagong COVID-19 variant. Ang bagal na nga ng vaccine procurement natin, humina pa ang testing at laboratory operations natin. We can’t go back to square one.”
This according to Senator Risa Hontiveros who called on the COVID czars and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to immediately release a contingency plan amid reports that the new UK COVID-19 variant could already be in the country.
According to Dr. John Wong of the health research institution Epimetrics Inc., this new variant could increase the number of cases in the country by 15 times. It is also reportedly 70% more infectious than the original variant.
“Tapos na ang 2020, pero hindi tapos ang pandemya. Handa ba ang mga ospital natin kung bigla na lang tumalon ang mga kaso natin to 300,000 a month? That’s almost all our 2020 infections in a single month. Tigilan na ang complacency,” Hontiveros said.
“We need to prepare our hospitals for the worst case scenario. The UK COVID-19 variant is a game changer, and if we are caught off guard many will die,” she said.
Hontiveros added that there could be many ‘missing cases’ because the country’s pandemic response became lax during the holidays. She said the drop in the reported number of cases in December despite the increase in foot traffic outdoors could be an indicator that testing had decreased. She expressed that this was extremely ‘worrisome’ “because it means there is an increase in infections going undetected.”
“Hindi magic bullet ang bakuna para sa pandemya. Lalo na at mabilisang mag-mutate ang coronavirus. Kay Sec. Duque at sa napakadaming COVID czars, huwag na nating ulitin ang nangyari last year noong hindi tayo naghanda dahil akala ng lahat ay tatlo lang ang kaso ng COVID-19 kasi hindi tayo nag-te-test nang maayos. Yun pala, kalat na kalat na,” she said.
“Dapat all-hands-on-deck ang gobyerno sa pagpapalakas ng COVID response, kahit wala pang bakuna. We need to make 2021 a year of genuine recovery for all,” she concluded. ###