“The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a public health crisis that requires a comprehensive public health response, instead of the current heavy-handed approach.”
This was Senator Risa Hontiveros’ remark on Thursday as she asked the government to rethink its overall strategy in battling the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to rethink our militaristic and police-centered approach to the problem”, she said after the Department of Health [DOH] yesterday logged 2,539 confirmed cases, the biggest single-day increase so far and with total cases now exceeding 50,000.
“This is an alarming update that needs serious attention from the IATF. We need more health visibility and listen to the recommendations of health experts,” the Senator urged, addressing the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Hontiveros reiterated her call for the health department to hire more health workers and ensure their protection.
“We need an army of health professionals to combat COVID-19,” she urged. “Kung may heightened police visibility, mas dapat may heightened medical visibility din,” she said.
“Patuloy na dumarami ang confirmed cases ng COVID-19 at dapat na dagdagan pa ang mga health professionals na may kakayahang tugunan ito,” she added.
Hontiveros also emphasized that the expansion in the number of medical personnel is essential in delivering a standard of health service, especially in a time of public health crisis. As confirmed cases are growing exponentially, she explained that the hiring of more health workers can speed up tracing, testing and isolation.
“We also need to ensure that every health worker is compensated justly and has access to personal protective equipment,” she added.
Hontiveros also sought the government’s immediate action in improving contact-tracing efforts. “There is no way around it: mass testing and aggressive contact tracing should be placed alongside any community quarantine for it to be effective,” she explained.
“Aggressive contact tracing will help us determine our transmission rate, and will allow us to isolate and test more people,” she also said.
“We need to remind the government to treat the COVID-19 crisis as a health crisis,” Hontiveros recommended. “The numbers are alarming and clearly, we are not winning. We cannot mass arrest our way out of this health problem,” she concluded.