Over a year into the health crisis, medical experts renewed their call for the government to fix the gaps in COVID-19 data reporting because this was a crucial aspect of the pandemic response.
In a statement on Thursday, September 16, the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) said it was important for the government to address the disparities in data reporting as this information would be the basis for the alert levels of areas for the new quarantine schemes.
The new quarantine scheme uses a five-point scale from alert level 1 (lowest) to alert level 5 (highest), in which granular lockdowns are implemented at any point in the alert scale.
Virus epicenter Metro Manila has been placed General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with alert level 4 status from September 16 until September 30.
The decision to ease quarantine restrictions in the metropolis comes at a time when the country has been recording escalating COVID-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant. On September 11, the country saw its highest single-day COVID-19 cases at 26,303.
“Based on this premise, we are inclined to believe that the proposed scheme, which claims to use pandemic severity and healthcare utilization data in deciding the alert level, does not reflect the true situation on the ground,” HPAAC said.
They added, “We therefore strongly urge the government to acknowledge and address the inadequacies of our data reporting system that forms the basis for the alert levels.”
HPAAC also reminded the government to “refocus on what can prevent future surges.”
- Integrated digital contact tracing
- Increased testing
- Appropriate compensation and recognition for healthcare workers
- Distribution of ayuda
- Enhanced vaccination
- Better coordination between facilities and government units
- Improved air circulation in all facilities
On Tuesday, September 14, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that relaxing quarantine measures in Metro Manila may lead to further increase in the transmission of COVID-19, citing the current vaccination coverage in the capital region.
WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that the government must be “very careful in recalibrating how we respond to the current situation.”
“We have significant population coverage within NCR (National Capital Region). I believe it’s about 60% now. But this is not adequate at this point to relax quarantine positions,” he said, referring to percentage of the Metro Manila population that has been fully vaccination.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has 2,304,192 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 36,018 deaths and 2,090,228 recoveries. Of the total, 177,946 are active or currently sick. – Rappler.com