July 22, 2024

With Philippines now having the most Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia at close to 20,000 as of Aug. 6, the last thing we need is a burned-out medical frontline calling for timeout who are scolded for raising the need for stricter measures as a way of support to our primary line of defense against the raging pandemic.
Like the group of physicians who we believe are justified in asking Malacañang to provide them a better fighting chance in the war against the Covid-19 through better responses and support to the medical frontlines, we are taken aback and very much disappointed by the response of the President, even while he granted their requests for benefits and reprieve and that he understood they are exhausted for being on the frontlines since March.
Taking the plea in a negative light, the President has scolded the group for airing their concerns publicly and warned them and government critics against revolution, which the group clarified was never their intention. What we cannot figure out is his intention when he said that frontliners are indispensable but not irreplaceable.
For us, such reaction is uncalled for as it alienates rather reinforces frontliners to remain on their posts and hold the line. At this point of the battle, our health workers deserve better than that. Let us walk the talk in expressing our compassion with those working hard, even beyond the call of duty.
While it should have been done by now, we still welcome the plan of the Department of Health to come up with new strategies to stem the Covid-19 spread, which include the deployment of the C.O.D.E., or Coordinated Operations to Defeat Pandemic, “a protocol that will begin active case finding through close coordination between DOH representatives and communities in the country.” There is also a plan to come up with “substitution teams” by tapping private healthcare workers from the provinces to beef up the medical frontline.
We believe that the timeout the medical frontliners in the National Capital Region were asking did not mean abandoning their posts. We consider it as an urgent call for the concerned agencies to go back to enhanced community quarantine or impose stricter protocols in the hotspot regions because of the high level of virus transmission resulting from relaxed regulations to allow the economy to recover.
We have to realize people have become complacent despite being aware of the increasing number of cases, with some noted breaches of health protocols. The return to ECQ would make the public understand the seriousness of the contagion and for us to heed the call to follow the rules and procedures so that we can afford to move back to normal affairs while staying safe from the virus.
At the local front, given the rising cases in the Cordillera with Baguio City recording the highest number in the past days, we suggest a review of the plan of reopening the city and other municipalities to tourism as this will definitely put a strain on our Covid-19 facilities, equipment, and medical workers.
Right now, hospitals beds in the city may still be enough, but it will only be a matter of time it would not be sufficient if more residents will get infected. Some hospitals also have temporarily suspended elective surgeries and procedures due to the unavailability of operating room staff nurses. The supply of personal protective equipment used by medical frontliners is also getting exhausted. Let us consider the pressure on the health workers who already have their hands full when tourists came in.
This we believe is one of the scenarios our local frontliners are worried about, and we understand if the local medical community would raise the need to again temporarily close city borders and require people to stay at home.
The call is for the city to slow down again – to lessen virus transmission, let the Covid-19 patients heal, and come up with stricter guidelines that will work well with the contact tracing system initiated by the city government that has been a recognized best practice by the World Health Organization.
We believe that winning the war against the Covid-19 is possible through an effective healthcare system implemented by a government that cares and knows how to communicate with the public, and a people who observe not just one, but all of the minimum health standards of protection.
Enforce and follow, without excuses, because the virus does not single out.