President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the declaration of a state of calamity throughout the Philippines for one more year due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
In Proclamation No. 1021 signed on Sept. 16 and released yesterday, Duterte extended the state of calamity “for a period of one year”, or from Sept. 13, 2020 to Sept. 12, 2021, “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant”.
Duterte said that while “significant strides” have been achieved to strengthen the country’s efforts to fight the spread of the virus, Covid-19 cases continue to increase in the country.
“The number of Covid-19 positive cases and deaths continue to rise despite efforts and interventions to contain the same,” the proclamation read.
Duterte said the extension would allow the national government, as well as local government units (LGUs), to continue using the “appropriate funds, including the Quick Response Fund, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, monitor and control prices of basic necessities and prime commodities, and provide basic services to the affected populations”.
Under the proclamation, all government agencies and LGUs are enjoined to cooperate and mobilize the necessary resources to “undertake critical, urgent, and appropriate disaster response aid and measures in a timely manner to curtail and eliminate the threat of Covid-19”.
Law enforcement agencies, with the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, were also directed to continue undertaking all necessary measures “to ensure peace and order” in affected areas.
In March, Duterte signed Proclamation 929 that placed the entire Philippines under a state of calamity for six months due to the Covid-19 health crisis.
The Department of Health yesterday reported a total of 279,526 Covid-19 cases, with 65,906 active cases, 208,790 recoveries, and 4,830 deaths.
A group of medical doctors and private citizens, meanwhile, launched a campaign called #FlattenTheFear as they pushed for the use of prophylaxis and early treatment strategy to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The group, calling themselves the “Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines” (CDC-PH), cited studies and research that allow the scientific and medical community to understand the virus and better act to control and manage it compared to previous months.
“For instance, various researches have confirmed that at least 93 percent of Covid deaths are people 55 years or older or those representing the high-risk groups,” the group added.
These studies have indicated that most of the deaths have co-morbidities and treatment priority, including homecare quarantine treatment, should focus on this high-risk and vulnerable group, the group said.
“As we have applied the protocol, we have seen an almost 100 percent success rate in treatment. Additionally, since we utilize homecare quarantine treatment to some of our patients, there was also a marked decrease in infection rates as well as easing the burden on the nation’s front liners and coffers. There was no need for hospital care, too,” it added.
The group proposed to adopt a national protocol for the prophylaxis and early treatment of Covid-19 that aims to reduce hospitalization and prevent loss of lives.
“With this solution in mind, we appeal to the President to lift all lockdowns to allow our people to begin to rebuild their lives,” the group said in a statement.
“We would be more than willing to sit down with the IATF to go over our suggested protocol and its administration, the details of which could then be immediately cascaded down to the barangay units via their primary health care workers,” the group said.
It said they are now constructing a directory of doctors willing to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to people who can take it as a prophylactic against Covid-19.
Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, who was invited as a guest and reactor to the group via Zoom conference, expressed his support to the proposed action plan of the group, saying that the government was moving at managing the risk brought by the disease.
“What we don’t want to do is risk avoidance, what we need to do is risk management,” Lopez said, adding the government is open to a realistic plan of action that will manage some of the risks.
Lopez pointed out that the government was already making the initial steps at reopening the economy.
According to the CDC-PH, the medical protocols they are proposing could be easily scaled on a national level, besides being more cost-effective.
If adopted, the protocols will allow the national government to allocate its limited resources to disease prevention and early treatment of flu-like illnesses, particularly on the vulnerable groups.
The group suggested training primary care doctors to the barangay level to implement such protocols to eliminate the need to travel and work restrictions, allowing businesses and markets to open again.
The government is also urged to adopt the HOPE strategy: Hospitalize less; Open up all businesses; Prevent illness. Don’t wait to cure it, and Educate all primary care physicians and the people on disease prevention.*PNA