Less tracing, no mass testing equal 'complete surrender' to COVID-19, says Escudero

Less tracing, no mass testing equal 'complete surrender' to COVID-19, says Escudero

MANILA, Philippines — The move of the Department of Health (DOH) to shift its COVID-19 response policies by lowering the priority for contact tracing and altogether doing away with mass testing is a “complete abdication and surrender,” Sorsogon governor and senatorial aspirant Francis Escudero said Friday.

Escudero said contact tracing and mass testing are necessary to isolate and treat people infected with the coronavirus and prevent the spread of the disease.

“What the DOH is doing is not a ‘COVID-19 response strategy’ but a complete abdication and surrender. It’s a strategy of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them,’” Escudero said in a statement.

“This is big mistake and a costly one,” he added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said it was impractical to do contact tracing when there is already widespread and sustained community transmission.

Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, said that was “not that much prioritized anymore” since there is very high likelihood that at least one member of Filipino households have tested positive for COVID-19.

Moreover, the DOH said targeted testing—and not mass testing—shall be prioritized.

“Wala na ngang libreng mass testing, babawasan pa ang testing! (There is no free mass testing, and yet they would further lessen it.) Kawawa naman po tayo. I cannot fathom, much less understand, the logic behind this policy,” Escudero said.

“Again, after trillions of pesos in borrowings, they are still ‘cutting corners,’” he further said.

On Friday, the Philippines tallied , the highest number of new infections in a single day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.