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Palace 'confident' that COVID-19 infections will slow down as gov't is now better prepared

By Bim Santos Published Mar 18, 2021 4:30 pm

Malacanang is ‘confident’ that COVID-19 infections will be reined in, even as a former Health secretary scored the country’s situation as being worse off than a year ago.

“I am confident na mapapabagal natin. In fact, nakikita natin na bumagal na,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing today.

Roque was referring to how the daily tally of new infections have gone down from a high of over 5,000 cases last weekend to 4,000-plus cases the past few days. The current level, however, is still way beyond the 1,000-2,000 level during the early part of March. The level of new cases this month is also over triple than the January level.

Due to the surge in new cases, former Health Sec. Esperanza Cabral released a statement criticizing how the COVID-19 situation has further deteriorated.

“The COVID-19 cases are surging, the hospitals are once again full. So are we back to square one?” Cabral said in a statement posted by Dr. Tony Leachon on Twitter.

Cabral said that unlike when the country was first dealing with the pandemic, things are actually worse off now as the public, the private sector, and the health care sector had more resources and energy before.

“We are not back to square one. We are ten steps back from square one,” Cabral said.

Health Usec. Bong Vega, dubbed as the “treatment czar,” said 64% of ICU beds in Metro Manila hospitals are now occupied. 

Though Vega said that the increase in cases and situations at hospitals are “alarming,” the country is better off versus last year.

“Compared to last year na wala tayo experience dito, we are in a better situation right now, Alam na ng health workers how to behave and also institutions” said Vega. “We know what’s effective in terms of health interventions, lockdowns, and may experience na ang health works and they’re getting vaccinated.”

Vega said that projection by the OCTA research group is alarming only if there is nothing being done. OCTO said that cases hitting 11,000 daily may be possible if the surge is not controlled.

“The way I look at it, these are alarm bells that if you don't do anything, mahuhulog ka talaga dun. The assumption is based on mathematical projections, but what is important is how we are able to respond,” said Vega.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also said in an interview with ANC early today that government policies to curb the pandemic remain, and that the Inter-Agency Task Force has already met with Metro Manila mayors to address the surge.

“We need to level up all these health and safety protocols,” Nograles said.