MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday urged the public to trust the Department of Health (DOH), saying the health officials are working tirelessly to monitor and address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In a media interview, Go said there is no point of blaming health officials, saying the people should remain calm after the confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 24 as announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night.
“Do not panic. Magtiwala po kayo sa health officials, sa gobyerno (Trust the health officials, the government),” Go said after attending the joint public hearing of the Senate Committees on Economic Affairs and Health and Demography.
Go said coronavirus has affected not only the Philippines but more than 90 countries particularly China where the virus was first detected in Wuhan City in Hubei province. The global death toll is now more than 3,800, with around 110,000 confirmed cases.
“Magtulungan na lang po tayo. Kawawa naman health officials natin down to the barangay. Hindi sila makakatrabaho kung puro lang batikos (Let us help each other. I pity our health officials down to the barangay. They cannot focus on their job if we will keep on criticizing),” he said. “Nagtatrabaho naman sila. Halos wala na silang tulog. Ginagawa nila ang kanilang trabaho (They (health officials) are working hard. They were hardly asleep).”
He said the best approach to minimize the effects of Covid-19 is not to blame each other.
“Hindi lang Pilipinas, buong mundo naman. Malalaking bansa rin, kahit mga powerhouse countries. Best approach is one step ahead tayo. Huwag na tayo magsisihan (dahil) hindi makakatulong iyan. Move forward tayo always (Not only the Philippines but the whole world. Even big, powerhouse countries. The best approach is we should be one stead ahead. Do not blame each other. It will not help. We should always move forward),” Go said.
The senator from Davao City also slammed rumors that the DOH is underreporting the Covid-19 cases since it took the department nearly a month before it confirmed local transmission after the first case was reported.
“I doubt. Wala silang (DOH) makukuha kung itatago nila (They will not benefit if they will hide information). For what?,” Go said adding that he is satisfied with the work done by the DOH.
He also urged the public to cooperate with the government’s efforts to implement stronger and more proactive measures to address the spread of coronavirus.
Go said the Senate committee on health, which he chairs, will continue to assess and support the government’s response to the situation.
He assured the public that with the declaration of a state of public health emergency, all resources of government shall be used properly and be made available to respond to the needs of communities.
Go also said he asked the DOH to provide updates on the confirmed cases, contact tracing and availability of testing kits.
He said testing kits should be made available throughout the country to allow more people to access them.
Meanwhile, Go said it would be too early to implement lockdown since Duterte has already declared a state of public health emergency and the DOH raised Code Red sublevel 1.
“Kung kakailanganin, paghahandaan natin. Ngayon nasa Code Red sublevel 1 pa lang tayo. Pag umangat sa sublevel 2, dapat na mag-suspend ng work at schools (If needed (lockdown), we should be prepared. right now we are at Code Red sublevel 1. If it will be raised at sublevel 2, work and classes at schools should be suspended),” Go said.
Existing health emergency protocols provide that Code Red sublevel 1 is triggered when there is at least one confirmed local transmission of Covid-19. Once declared, authorities will intensify contact tracing and enforce home quarantine of close contacts of confirmed cases and hospitals will be ordered to be prepared for possible increase in the number of patients seeking admission.
Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) surveillance will also be enhanced and other laboratories of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine will be activated in order to increase the capacity to diagnose suspected cases.
“Nagkausap kami ni President. Magiging case to case bawat lugar. Hindi pwedeng direcho lockdown (I’ve talked to President. It would be case-to-case basis in every area. Not total lockdown),” he said.
After attending the Inter-Agency Task Force meeting in Malacañang, Duterte announced the suspension of classes in all levels in the National Capital Region (NCR) from March 10 to 14 as the Covid-19 cases rose to 24. (PNA)