The Philippines’ chief state economist is backing mass testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections to limit its further spread and mitigate its economic impact.
“The key to a successful medical response is widespread testing,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority chief Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
“Early detection and diagnosis will lead to early initiation of quarantine procedures, which will therefore limit or prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease,” Pernia said.
The Department of Health (DOH), however, said that the conduct of mass testing for COVID-19 is still not feasible due to limited resources.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said the DOH could be missing half of the actual total number of COVID-19 cases in the country due to the limited testing capacity of laboratories.
“It is crucial to have adequate number of testing kits, medical supplies, facilities, and equipment and health care personnel across the country,” Pernia said.
“This may require the use of makeshift facilities or converted structures, in the immediate term,” he added.
The state planning agency proposed a three-phase approach to mitigate the social and economic impact of the COVID-19.
Phase 1A will involve clinical and medical response, the early detection and diagnosis, effective quarantine systems, effective management and treatment protocol, and research and epidemiological studies.
Phase 1B is for public health responses such as travel ban, promotion of proper hygiene, ban on crowded gatherings, school closures, work suspension, flexible work arrangements, and work continuance in essential sectors.
Meanwhile, Phase 1C will be for the short-term augmentation of the Philippines' health systems capacity, such as establishing makeshift outpatient consultation facilities with specimen harvesting, and the increase of supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and remote quarantine facilities (RQF).
This will be followed by Phase 2 which will rebuild consumer and business confidence.
Phase 3 will involve the resumption of a "new normal" state of economic activity more prepared for another possible pandemic. — DVM, GMA news