MANILA, Philippines, March 27 ------ Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that it was still too early to tell whether the tide against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had shifted amid the enhanced community quarantine. As of this writing, the national count of COVID-19 patients has eclipsed 600 after the Department of Health recorded 84 more patients on Wednesday. This, as the country is still under a nationwide state of calamity after President Rodrigo Duterte said that the number of cases was still steadily rising despite government intervention.
According to the health chief, the Philippines was looking to take the lead of Wuhan, the pathogen's place of origin, in dealing with the virus. “It is hard to say right now. It is still too early and premature,” Duque said in Filipino on Thursday in an interview with radio dzBB. “The cases there [in Wuhan] only really started going down in March, at around the first weeks of March,” he added. "Right now, it is down to zero to just one case per day, and they're mostly imported cases."
Duque again expressed apprehension towards the idea of implementing mass testing measures in the country. "That's hard to do. How do you identify mass testing? Will you need each and every Filipino to be tested? No other country can do mass testing to that extent. You'll need to rationalize that. For me, we'll prioritize vulnerable, high risk groups," he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"Testing isn't medicine or treatment. If you know you have [similar] symptoms, like shortness of breath, fever, dry cough, colds, you have to manage it as COVID-19 already." "If you have these symptoms, why wait for a test? Do it already. You assume [that you have it.]" The health chief also disclosed that the department had already reached out to China to ask for more test kits, although he said there was no guarantee yet that their request would be granted.