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COVID-19 PH: The Salient Points in Duterte’s August 2 Address

#4: In response to the plea of Filipino health workers, President Duterte Duterte has recommended the "free and frequent testing" of medical frontliners.

Late-night of August 2, President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the nation together with his Cabinet members. In his meeting with the Cabinet, the President talked about the country’s COVID-19 response and how they plan to go about it in the coming weeks. It comes as cases have already breached 100,000 as of August 2.

Present in the meeting were Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, among others. Health Secretary Duque presented the points made by health workers in their plea to the government with regard to the pandemic. (Read: UP Expert Predicts 140,000 COVID-19 Cases by End of August)

In the plea, the health workers asked for a “two-week time out” for frontliners in the form of the enhanced community quarantine. They said the “health sector cannot hold the line for much longer. Our healthcare workers should not bear the burden of deciding who lives and who dies. If the health system collapses, it is ultimately our poor who are most compromised.”

The health workers also asked the government to hire additional manpower in the frontlines, provide additional benefits for them, re-impose the requirement of quarantine passes to limit the number of people outside, and make the RT-PCR test as the “gold standard” kit for COVID-19 testing in the country. (Read: What’s the difference between the PCR and the Rapid Test Kits?)

metro-manila-returns-to-mecq
Photo from Jansen Romero / File Photo / Manila Bulletin

Duterte’s Response

In response to the plea, President Duterte approved the proposal for Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan to return to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) to help control the spread of the virus.

As for the additional benefits, Duterte said that they are “recommending insurance, free accommodation, free transportation, free and frequent testing” for health workers. (Read: 4 Millennial Frontliners Who Are Making A Big Difference)

Aside from these announcements, the President also made other statements regarding the COVID-19 response in the country. Here are some of them:

  1. He agrees that health workers who get sick should be given financial aid. This is in response to NTF COVID-19 chief implementor Carlito Galvez’s statement that health workers “are on the brink of a breakdown because of discrimination in terms of benefits.
  2. He asks health workers to continue working. During the live broadcast, Duterte acknowledged that most of our health workers are now overworked because of the pandemic, he then encouraged them to keep pushing on in the battle. “We are aware that you are tired, that you have worked beyond 24 hours a day. Wala kaming matakbuhan. Kayo yung nag-aral. Kayo ang may alam,” he said.
  3. He says the government is doing everything they can. According to Duterte, they have been active in looking for ways to enhance the country’s health care system and improve our situation.
  4. He says that health workers should be tested every two days. This is to ensure that they have not contracted the disease.
  5. He reminds people to refrain from going outside. The President says individuals could help in the fight against COVID-19 by simply staying at home if they do not have anything important to do outside.

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