President Duterte

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday assured the public that the government is doing its best to reduce the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in the country to “the barest minimum”.

“Ang akin lang (My stance) is if we can do it actually, we have to reduce it to the barest minimum na ano, ‘yung tao na hindi ma-ano (that people will not [acquire Covid-19]),” Duterte said in a taped public address aired on state-run PTV-4 on Tuesday.

Duterte gave the guarantee, as the Covid-19 cases in the country continue to surge. As of Monday, the Philippines has reported 68,898 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Around 23,072 Covid-19 patients have recovered, while 1,835 people have died due to the disease.

Duterte ensured that his administration is keeping tabs on the latest developments in its fight against Covid-19.

“My countrymen, we continue to meet regularly to talk about our problem. Perhaps, our number one problem today is [Covid-19]. I am as mad as you. Galit ako, pareho tayo, sa nangyari (Just like you, I am mad about what happened),” he said.

Malacañang on July 17 expressed sadness over the country’s failure to counter the initial prediction of the University of the Philippines (UP) researchers that Covid-19 infections in the country might rise to 60,000 by July 31.

The UP researchers’ projection was realized on July 16, or just in mid-July, when confirmed Covid-19 cases jumped to 61,266.

Considering the disease’s transmission rate and doubling time, the group of researchers from UP revised its projection, saying that Covid-19 infections could reach 85,000 by the end of July.

Improved testing capacity

During his public address, Duterte asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III if the country can afford to do the Covid-19 testing “for every citizen” in the Philippines to arrest the further spread of the disease.

Duque, however, said no country can conduct tests for all of its citizens.

“Hindi naman po natin pwedeng i-test ang bawat mamamayan. Wala pong bansa ang nakakagawa nito, kahit na po ang pinakamayaman katulad ng United States of America (We cannot test each citizen. No country can do that, even the richest country like the United States of America cannot do that),” Duque told Duterte.

Duque, nevertheless, told Duterte that the government’s target is to test 10 million Filipinos for Covid-19 by 2021.

He also noted that there is a plan to conduct 32,000 to 40,000 Covid-19 tests per day in the country.

“Magiging mga 10 percent po tayo (It will be 10 percent) of the total population of the Philippines at 109 million, we might be able to reach about 10 million Filipinos [who will get tested for Covid-19] by 2021,” Duque said.

‘Free’ face masks, procurement of vaccines

Duterte reiterated that amid the pandemic, the public should wear face masks and observe social distancing.

To further boost the country’s fight against Covid-19, Duterte said he would also find a way to distribute “free” face masks to all Filipinos.

“Mask, ito importante talaga (Wearing of mask is really important). Ngayon (Now), I will try to buy as many as I can afford. Kung kaya ko, ibigay namin sa inyo iyan nang libre (We will give it for free if I can). But wear it,” Duterte said.

Duterte also renewed his plan to either borrow money or sell government properties, in case a vaccine or medicine for Covid-19 is developed.

“If there is a thing developed which is really good for you, mauna ako (I will take the initiative). Mangutang ako. Magpabili ako kung saan magpabili ng lupa para ibili ko ng medicine (I will borrow money [or] I will sell public property to buy medicine [or vaccine] against Covid-19),” he said. (PNA)

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