The Department of Health (DOH) is in hot waters as the public and the Senate question them on why there still are no mass testing initiatives in the country. As of writing, only 240,000 individuals—roughly 0.2% of the total population—have been tested out of over 110 million Filipinos.
During a Senate Committee inquiry on May 19, Senator Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian asked DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque what the worst-case scenario would be for the Philippines when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. The health secretary answered that there may be a repeat of outbreaks and a second and third wave of infections will occur.
Worst case scenario
“Dedepende pa po ’yan sa bilang ng mga kaso sa mga iba’t ibang mga lugar,” Secretary Duque explains. He says that in order to determine a second and third wave, they would have to see data on the case doubling time, health capacity utilization, and critical care utilization rate in the country.
Duque also added that a quick case doubling time and high health capacity utilization would mean “an outbreak is explosive.”
The Philippines still hasn’t flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases, as the number of infected individuals continues to rise each day by the hundreds. Despite that, what’s more alarming is that even with the still-rising number of confirmed cases and the threat of a second and third wave of infections lingering, the government has decided to eased quarantine measures in some areas in the country.
Malls have been allowed to reopen as long as they observe proper health protocols, but some people seemed to have forgotten to practice physical distancing. This increases the risk of being infected by the virus as gatherings of people in one area poses health risks to everyone.
Without mass testing, the Philippines cannot afford to risk the health of Filipinos by easing quarantine measures given that some experts say that COVID-19 cases may reach 75,000 in just two weeks.
As of May 20, the Philippines has 12,942 confirmed cases, with 2,843 recoveries and 837 deaths.