Press Release
April 3, 2021

Step on gas on Covid testing, tracing, and treatment or face humanitarian crisis: Pangilinan

SENATOR Francis Pangilinan is asking the government to step up efforts to test, trace, and treat as many cases as possible to cut the transmission chains and suppress the pandemic, or face a humanitarian crisis that will overwhelm the country and wipe out families.

"Apakan na ang gas. Testing, tracing, isolation, at treatment ang apat na gulong ng ambulansya kontra Covid. Lahat ng gawain ng pamahalaan ay dapat nakatuon sa pagpapabilis ng ambulansya para maunahan ang impeksyon at masalba tayong lahat (Step on the gas. Testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment are the four wheels of the anti-Covid ambulance. Government efforts must be toward accelerating the ambulance to outpace the infection and save all of us)," he said.

"Inuulit ko, dapat may libreng mass testing para matukoy agad kung sino ang may Covid. At dapat masiguro rin na may makakain ang mag-s-self-isolate at ang pamilya niya (I repeat, there should be free mass testing to identify who is infected with Covid. Those who go on self-isolation and their family must be assured of food)," he added.

Pangilinan cited Vice President Leni Robredo's mobile free mass testing initiative called Swab Cab. In its initial run, the Vice President reported that "people are worried that if they test positive and are required to isolate, they will not be able to work and their families might go hungry. Delikado ito."

The Vice President observed that many asymptomatic patients and those displaying very mild symptoms will not undergo any test if their family's survival is at stake; they will continue working and increasing the possibility of infecting other people.

Pangilinan agreed with Robredo's suggestion to incentivize testing through cash assistance equivalent to at least the minimum wage for every day of self-isolation. He made the same recommendation at the beginning of the pandemic last year.

Earlier, the Philippine Orthopedic Center temporarily closed after over 100 of its 180 hospital staff tested positive for Covid. As Covid cases spiked over the last two weeks, public and private hospitals are swamped with Covid patients, and are running at critical, if not over, capacity.

"Kapag ang medical front-liners na natin ang nagkakasakit, malaki ang threat na mag-collapse ang ating health-care system. Kailangang maagapan ang pagkalat ng sakit (When our medical front-liners are getting sick, the threat of collapse our health-care system is big. We must control the spread of the disease)," Pangilinan said.

He urged the national and local government units to smoothly lay down necessary preparations so they can act quickly and get the shots in people's arms once the vaccines arrive.

Pangilinan said the government should also be relentless in its information campaign on how the people can get the vaccines, including the process of registration and actual inoculation.

On Friday, April 2, the Philippines recorded 15,310 new confirmed Covid-19 cases -- the country's highest single-day tally so far as an upsurge of the disease has been noted over the last couple of weeks. On Saturday, April 3, new Covid infections in the country numbered 12,576.

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