Observe minimum public health standards – Palace

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The Palace encouraged the public anew to continue to observe and strictly practice the minimum public health standards to protect themselves and others from the virus and slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr, in his June 30 media briefing, said that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), in its latest meeting, revisited the government’s strategies in combating COVID-19 to ensure a balance between health and economy. Among the recommended strategies of the IATF include the strengthening of mitigating measures on the strict enforcement of minimum public health standards.

“Napatunayan na po na ang mga bagay na ito: social distancing, pagsusuot ng mask, at pagpapanatili ng hygienic practices ay ang pinakamalakas pong mga pamamaraan para po mapababa ang pagkalat ng sakit na COVID[-19],” said Secretary Roque.

The Palace official said that studies have shown that wearing of mask reduces the risk of getting infected by the virus by as much as 85 percent, while social distancing lessens the chances of getting sick by as much as 80 percent.

Aside from strictly enforcing minimum public health standards, the IATF also agreed to strengthen the mitigating measures on ensuring the protection of vulnerable populations, maximizing the test, trace, and isolate and treat infrastructure, and using the full support of strategic communications.

Secretary Roque said that ensuring protection for the vulnerable group is also a top priority in the government strategy against COVID-19, which is why those who belong to the said group: the elderly, the youth, those with co-morbidities or other existing diseases, pregnant women, cancer survivors, among others, are advised to continue to remain in their homes.

On the government’s test, trace, isolate, and treat infrastructure, the Palace Spokesperson said that with the newly acquired one million PCR testing kits acquired by the Philippine government, including the purchased rapid testing kits, targeted testing will continue to expand even more.

The President’s spokesman further underscored the government’s testing strategy, which seeks to accelerate testing capacity by the end of July 2020 to aid in achieving a positivity rate of three percent.

“Patuloy pa po nating palalawakin ang testing at ang ating inaasahan po, ang ating tina-target matapos ang Hulyo ng taong kasalukuyan, eh magkakaroon na po tayo ng three percent positivity rate. Syempre po para po umabot tayo dun sa three percent positivity rate, yun po yung tatlo sa kada 100 ang nagpo-positibo, importante po na madamihan pa talaga natin ang mga test na ginagawa natin,” Sec. Roque said.

Meanwhile, to address doubts on the effectiveness of rapid testing in finding the positive COVID-19 cases, Roque presented data from a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University that showed the merits of rapid testing against RT-PCR test.

Looking at the Johns Hopkins’ data, Secretary Roque said: “Bagama’t sinasabi natin na gold standard ang PCR, epektibo lang sya kapag ang test ay mula three days from the onset of the disease until seven days. Yun yung pinaka-accurate na resulta nya. Pero kung titingnan nyo po yung IGM ng rapid testing, eh between day zero, ibig sabihin maski wala ka pang sintomas hanggang all the way to 35 days.”

In the same media briefing, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, who was assigned by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as overseer of the government’s COVID-19 response in Cebu, gave an overview of the current situation in Cebu City, which is currently considered as the new COVID-19 epicenter in the country.

Secretary Cimatu said that he is already looking at the reasons for the spike in cases in Cebu City, noting the increasing death rates and the high positivity rate, wherein 30 out of 100 people tested yield positive COVID-19 test results. Sec. Cimatu also said that he has already organized and met with his advisory council who will help him formulate guidelines to strictly enforce community quarantine protocols, and that he has already scouted structures in the city that can be converted to temporary treatment and isolation facilities.(OPS-PCOO)

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