MANILA – A health reform advocate on Wednesday claimed the month-long Luzon lockdown will only be successful and lifted as scheduled if mass testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is properly implemented by the Department of Health (DOH).
Dr. Tony Leachon said the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon could only be removed if and when a plateau in the number of COVID-19 cases is obtained.
“Hindi natin puwedeng sabihin na magli-lift tayo ng ECQ kung hindi natin nakikitang nagpa-plateau o nagpa-flatten yung curve,” Leachon said.
The Luzon-wide ECQ is up until Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Leachon also shared that he has observed countries which successfully “flattened the curve” conducted mass testing after implementing lockdowns.
“Dapat ho ‘yun nagra-random testing. Paano mo mada-diagnose ang dami ng tao na ‘yun eh kokonti ang test kits na ginagamit mo? Paano ka makakapagdiagnosis sa isang kaso kung wala kayong diagnostic kit?” he said.
“Eh ngayon, ‘yan yung best practices sa mga areas na nakapag-flatten ng curve. Ang nakapagflatten ng curve, ang model country in the world, is South Korea, Hong Kong, at saka Australia at saka Japan. Ang success factor nila, after ng quarantine o lockdown, ang next nilang ginawa, testing,” Leachon said during an interview over DZMM.
Next DOH Secretary
The health advocate who is being groomed by some quarters for DOH’s top post also said that it is of utmost importance for the government to protect its healthcare workers by providing personal protective equipments (PPEs).
Unfortunately, distribution by DOH of PPEs to health care workers only commenced two days ago even as it only approved the use of five assorted rapid testing kits brands Monday, 30 March 2020, in an effort to stem the spread of the killer virus.
Leachon acknowledges PH’s lack in testing kits but he said the government should start utilizing available kits donated by other countries.
“Ang sa akin po, lahat po ng innovations na ‘yan, mabilis nating i-assess. Kasi kung in-approve ‘yan, ginagamit ‘yan sa Korea at Australia at US FDA, nangangahulugan puwedeng gamitin sa atin,” he said.
“Gamitin muna natin ang test kits na donasyon ng iba’t ibang bansa na naging successful sila. Mayroon ang China, mayroon ang Korea, mayroon ang Singapore,” Leachon added.
The health reform advocate claims the country’s current count (2,084) of COVID-19 positive patients could really be at least 7,000 but majority are undetected because of the shortage in test kits.
At present hundreds of thousands of rapid test kits are now available for DOH’s dispensation but indecision on the part of health officials remain an obstacle to mass testing sources said.
“Ang tinitingnan ko ho ‘yung doubling time, ‘yung reproductive number. Kasi po ang kuwenta ko po, every 2 or 3 days po na nagrereproduce po kayo,” Leachon said.
Leachon also said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has yet to reach its peak, which means the enhanced community quarantine cannot be lifted yet.
“The war is still ongoing. We had not seen ho ‘yung actual bigat ho nito. Wala pa tayo sa peak,” he said.
“Ang enhanced community quarantine ay hindi mali-lift. It will only be lifted if the cases show some flattening of the curve. At the moment, the curve is steep. Napaka-steep, parang pabundok pa. Kapag nagflatten yan at nagplateau, ‘yun ang senyales natin,” Leachon also said.
However, Leachon suggested for a selective kind of ECQ lifting among local governments which successfully flattened the curve.
Dr. Anthony Leachon is a Filipino physician – leader, preventive health education and health reform advocate. Dr. Leachon graduated from the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in 1985 and was one of the PRC medical board topnotchers in June 1986.
He finished his residency in Internal Medicine at Manila Doctors Hospital (1987-1989). He was awarded as the most outstanding resident and served as Chief Resident during his senior year.
He had his fellowship in Cardiology at the UP- PGH Medical Center from 1990-1992. He was likewise awarded as the Most Outstanding Research Fellow and served as Chief Fellow during his senior year at UP PGH Medical Center.
He has extensive experience working in the corporate world as Medical Director of Unilever Philippines from 1993 to 1995 and Medical and Regulatory Affairs Director of Pfizer Philippines from 1995 to 2010.
He practices medicine as a leading internist and cardiologist at the Manila Doctors Hospital.
Dr. Leachon has won several awards and recognitions as an outstanding physician leader and health advocate. (ia/sovereignph.com)