Who’s telling the truth on COVID-19 situation? – SHARP EDGES by JAKE J. MADERAZO
With the country now on its third month of community quarantine, medical experts continue to debate about the real new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation.
Based on the latest official figures, there are almost 26,000 confirmed cases with 1,088 fatalities and new cases (fresh and late) ranging from 500 to 600 a day. University of the Philippine scientists have predicted that by June 30, there will be 40,000 confirmed cases. The numbers are unsettling for the already stressed-out public who are worried about their health and financial stability.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that according to the results of its May 20-June 12 study, there was a big 29-percent decrease in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila. It also said that the national fatality rate declined from 5.52 to 4.24 percent. Also, COVID-19 cases from Central Visayas, including Cebu City, increased from 13 to 24 percent.
Critics have lamented the backlog and delays in the DOH’s daily results. A new group called Scientists Unite Against COVID-19 has urged the DOH to address “validation delays” and “laboratory testing” that created “two distinct but related backlogs.”
They also questioned the median turnaround time of three days in which only one-third of results were released within two days of samples receipt. These delays, they say, hamper crucial public health interventions such as contact tracing and local policy decisions.
Analysts say that as of June 12, a total of 31,779 confirmed positives were reported by testing laboratories. This reveals a gap or backlog of 5,847 positives, still to be validated by the DOH. I must also mention that the health department, in the past, has repeatedly apologized for “errors” in its daily reports.
Inside the powerful Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), officials are at loggerheads over the “real numbers” coming from the DOH, its lead agency.
Special adviser to the national task force on COVID-19 Dr. Tony Leachon has criticized the DOH for its lack of focus in everything—from risk communication, priorities, data management and the execution of all plans.
Leachon also said that we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the “dropped ball” with people waiting for positive results from the DOH.
Sadly, this major disagreement among top medical experts inside the IATF are giving our countrymen a worrisome picture of how the government is failing in its efforts to handle this pandemic. Are the differences of opinion indicative of a power struggle, vested interests or genuine love of country? Take your pick.
My colleagues in the horse racing industry are praying that Metro Manila will soon be downgraded to a modified general community quarantine so that races can resume in Malvar, Batangas and in Carmona and Naic in Cavite.
The IATF has approved the restarting of the races on July 19 to resuscitate the P40-billion peso industry, which supports the livelihood of thousands of farmworkers, stable hands, jockeys, trainers, ticket tellers, off-tracking betting and race tracks employees, as well as feeds/supplement suppliers
Today, horse races without spectators are happening in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, England and the United States. I see no reason why the races here cannot resume very soon.
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