Gov’t told to focus on new infections

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THE government should focus on new coronavirus cases to prevent further transmission, a former Health secretary said on Wednesday.

The focus should shift away from the total cases because a big proportion had either recovered or died, said Manuel M. Dayrit, a former Health secretary under then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“What are the new cases that are occurring everyday because that is where we can intervene in the here and now,” he said at an online forum.

“When local governments and the private sector work together and identify those new cases and clamp down on the clusters, you will stop your epidemic or slow it down,” he said.

Mr. Dayrit noted that while the country has built up its laboratory capacity, testing and isolation capacities have not grown. The lack of contact tracers and failure to isolate cases “will bring you down,” he added.

The country is also building the health system while confronting the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

“That’s why we have to grow our capacity in a balanced way,” Mr. Dayrit said. “And that’s the story of how our epidemic has continued to grow despite the fact that we were working very hard to expand a number of our capacities.”

Contact tracing should also be done within a day or two to prevent clustering of cases in cities and municipalities.

“That’s the secret to control — we have to do the fundamental things well, the testing, the contact tracing, the isolation and we have to do these all very well,” he said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal back under a strict lockdown after coronavirus infections surged, heeding the call of the medical community that warned the country could lose its battle against the pandemic. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas