The Philippines should take note of the coronavirus pandemic response of other countries and adapt their “best practices,” a former government adviser said.

With active Covid-19 cases nearing 180,000 and hospitals overloaded with Covid-19 patients, Dr. Anthony Leachon said on April 8 that repeating the same actions would make the country “lose” the fight against the pandemic.

“If we’re doing the same thing and expecting different results, we will not win [against Covid-19],” he said. 

Leachon also questioned the “leadership vacuum” in the Department of Health (DOH), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19, and pointed to the success of countries like New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam in responding to the pandemic. 

The countries he mentioned had been lauded for aggressive mass testing, contact tracing and quarantines to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The former pandemic response adviser lamented the “lack of urgency” towards the Covid-19 crisis, citing the ribbon-cutting and photo-ops ceremony at the Quezon Institute Offsite Modular Hospital last April 6 as hospitals ran out of beds for patients.

Leachon suggested that the country adopt mass testing, which would test around 10 percent to 20 percent of the population, or around 10.8 million to 21.6 million people.

On April 7, NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon rejected calls for mass testing, saying that testing the entire population was impossible. Mass testing, however, means testing all people exposed to patients with confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to the DOH.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also rejected on March 29 the idea of mass testing the entire population, which, according to her, would lead to “indiscriminate testing.”

Today, the Philippines logged 12,225 Covid-19 cases, which brought the total cases to 840,554. The country also recorded an all-time high 401 deaths, bringing the total to 14,520. Ian Gabriel Trinidad