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Duterte may announce major changes in gov't COVID-19 response Thursday —Roque

President Rodrigo Duterte may announce Thursday night major changes in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, spokesperson Harry Roque said Wednesday, adding that “things will not be the same.”

“As always, I can’t announce it because it is the President who will announce it on Thursday night, if I’m not mistaken. There are still appeals to be made by the local government units so the recommendations are all preliminary and subject to finalization on Thursday,” Roque said in an interview with CNN-Philippines when asked for details on the COVID-19 task force's meeting on Tuesday.

“Let’s just say that things will not be the same. There will be major changes in our response to the pandemic…So it is not so much the classification that would matter but the responses, the new invigorated responses that we will have in this COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

He said the government will conduct expanded targeted testing and invigorated tracing as the country now has the capability to conduct more actual testing.

“We’ve hit more than 30,000 a day and we will continue to test many people on a daily basis. We will aim to test more and we will invigorate our tracing which is now headed by the tracing czar Mayor (Benjamin) Magalong,” he said.

“The people will now see the difference in the response that we will have. It is now thoroughly invigorated and part of it is the built capacity. We now have the capacity to do what we wanted from the very beginning so the people will see that there will be expanded targeted testing beyond numbers that they probably would not have imagined,” he added.

Roque also said more isolation facilities will be constructed for mild and asymptomatic patients and the government will use dormitories if that will not be enough.

“We will actually attempt to isolate everyone who will turn out positive because the experience of other countries is that it is only in this manner that they were able to control the spread of the disease,” he said.

Roque also responded to the statement of Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who urged the public to demand more from the government’s COVID-19 response.

“Well, you don’t have to demand [it] because we’re doing it. Please remember that IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] is not just the DOH [Department of Health]; it’s a whole of government approach,” he said.

“And the fact that we have reached the point where pooled testing is now actually, in principle, allowed shows the stride that we have made in breaking barriers and in accepting new ideas.”

In his fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said policies, which included lockdowns, prevented up to 3.5 million infections based on projections from experts. — with Virgil Lopez/AOL/RSJ, GMA News