The coalition of medical groups that called for a two-week "time out" as the nation grapples with COVID-19 on Tuesday said they saw improvements in response strategies but stressed that plans need enforcement.
The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) said their talks with healthcare workers, government agencies, the private sector, and civil society led to the development of a "sturdy" plan against the disease.
Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal will return to a general community quarantine (GCQ) on Wednesday after two weeks under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
President Rodrigo Duterte had reimposed MECQ over these areas earlier this month following the alliance's plea for time to recalibrate strategies against the disease.
"Nitong nakaraang dalawang linggo, may unti-unting nabubuo na matibay na plano laban sa COVID-19," Dr. Antonio Dans of the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine said at a virtual press conference, reading a statement by the coalition.
For one, he said they found that hospitals being filled to capacity was due to "weak coordination," which he said may be addressed by the One Hospital Command system.
Launched last week, the One Hospital Command system aims to improve the referral system and interoperability of public and private health care facilities catering to COVID-19 patients nationwide.
Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Mario Panaligan called for the strengthening of the One Hospital Command system.
“Mas maganda na mas mapalawak pa ito para umabot doon sa mga LGUs [local government units] na kailangang-kailangan ng tulong,” Panaligan said in a televised Palace briefing.
“Kailangan mapalakas pa natin ito lalung-lalo na sa ating mga mayor at sa ating mga barangay officials para matulungan din natin ang iba’t ibang tao na kailangang kumonsulta dahil sa sakit na ito.”
Panaligan also hopes that the government will boost its contact tracing efforts.
“Tandaan natin marami pa rin ang mga asymptomatic, na hindi natin malalaman na magkakaroon ng sintomas at kakalat nang kakalat ang sakit na ito kung hindi natin naagapan ito. At siyempre pa, importanteng-importante din iyong mga gamot na maibibigay natin lalung-lalo na doon sa mga nasa ospital,” he said.
Dans also identified as "areas of great improvement" workplace and transportation safety guidelines, and the strengthening of the Health Technology Assessment Council.
He said he would rate their level of satisfaction with the discussions an 8 out of 10 but he stressed that more needs to be done.
"Maraming nagawa, maraming napag-usapan, maraming nabagong plano. Kailangan ma-implement nang mabuti at tutulong kami diyan," he said.
Dans added that the public also has a responsibility to help control the pandemic.
"Handa na ba tayo? Alam na natin ang gagawin, 'di ba? May plano na tayo. Kailangan implement na lang natin," he said.
Members of the alliance emphasized that the "time out" they had asked for was not to give healthcare workers time to rest but to re-strategize.
"The effects of the time-out on our overburdened health care system would not be felt within two weeks," said Dr. Aileen Espina of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians.
The country has logged 164,474 COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon, still the highest across Southeast Asia. —KG/BM, GMA News