Work together to fight COVID-19 and keep economy open, Galvez urges public
MANILA, Philippines — Everyone should work together to keep the coronavirus disease from spreading further while trying to reopen the economy, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19, said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
“Though the lockdown bought us time to increase public health capacity, we now must face the challenge of reopening the economy,” Galvez said in a meeting with representatives of the private sector.
He said he was thankful for the Task Force Test, Trace, Treat (T3) and its private sector partners for cooperating to boost the country’s overall testing capacity to 74,000 tests per day, with 75 labs and a turnaround time of just 72 hours or less for results.
Before the T3 coalition was formed, there were only 17 labs nationwide capable of conducting 3,000 tests per day in April with a turnaround time of two weeks.
T3 is a partnership between the IATF, the Department of Health, the Asian Development Bank, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, and several dozen private organizations. Its goal is to help ramp up the government’s testing, tracing, and treatment efforts to beat COVID-19.
According to Secretary Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer, the goal now is to do 10 million tests within the next 10 to 12 months — aggressively expanding coverage to include non-medical personnel, particularly to essential workers frequently in contact with crowds, such as security guards, cashiers, market and street vendors, and transport sector workers, as well as in economic zones and priority tourist destinations.
“It has been a challenging fight thus far, and we will continue to face these challenges head-on through various efforts of the national and local governments and with the private sector as an invaluable partner in this fight. It is only by working together that we can again start to rebuild our lives and the economy,” Dizon said.
Discipline vital in the new normal
As the country tries to move towards normalcy, Galvez and Dizon stressed that every Filipino must take more responsibility and be very disciplined in following basic health measures and precautions.
They also called on both local governments and private companies to strictly enforce the wearing of masks, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing.
They also urged the private firms to do their part in testing their workers and conducting aggressive contact tracing using the StaySafe.ph app.
They cited the effort of San Miguel Corp. to open its own COVID-19 laboratory to test all of its 70,000 employees.
PPP at its best
T3 was established at the end of April in response to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for a whole-of-nation approach to battling COVID-19.
Since then almost all the major companies have responded resoundingly in an unprecedented partnership with the government.
“We would not have been able to do all of these without the help of our partners in the private sector,” Dizon said. “This is why we humbly ask for continued partnership with the private sector to support the way forward to manage COVID-19 and keep the economy open safely for the benefit of every Filipino.”
The private sector also expressed its commitment to continue to support the initiatives of T3 moving to its next phase.
The heads of partner companies were present at the briefing and conveyed their intent to help and train people to get back on their feet. This includes helping them practice behavioral modification and situational awareness during the new normal.
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and CEO of Ayala Corp., said that as more of the country reopens, there would be a need to greatly expand risk-based testing.
“Our health care workers, our frontliners in sectors like utilities, banking, retail, sanitation and security; as well as our employees who will be returning to the workplace, all need to be tested regularly,” he said. “We in the business community stand by our commitment to partner with government so that Filipinos can resume their lives, with utmost care and proper precautions.”
Josephine Gotianun-Yap, president and CEO of Filinvest Development Corp., recognized the need for timely data analysis and surveillance.
“We laud the efforts of the government to get us back to our normal lives,” she said during the briefing with Galvez and Dizon. “Timely and efficient data gathering and reporting are also crucial. We are willing to continue to lend technical assistance to local government units to strengthen field surveillance for prompt data so immediate action can be done.”
Manny V. Pangilinan, chairman of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., PLDT, and Smart Communications, Inc., also stressed the importance of contact tracing, preferably with the aid of technology such as the StaySafe.ph app.
“We need more accurate contact tracing as more of our employees go back to work,” he said.
For parties interested in participating in T3, please contact Bill Luz of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation at [email protected]
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