President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday backed the health department in its call for public vigilance in the fight against COVID-19, citing surging cases in Europe as a result of complacency.
In his report to President Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Filipino public should be cautious in the face of a downward trend in COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Complacency, he said, could lead to resurgence in infections similar to what is happening in Europe.
The health secretary emphasized that a better COVID-19 outlook in the Philippines should not result to the public ditching adherence to safeguards like social distancing and mask use, as what the countries in Europe did, resulting in the fifth wave of COVID-19 infections.
The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have seen surging coronavirus cases after some relaxation in the implementation of health protocols, Duque reported.
He pointed to the UK’s “Freedom Day” as an example, in which the government lifted COVID-19 restrictions to resume business operation and allow mass gatherings, leading to the public abandoning mask use and observance of distancing.
“Kaya huwag po tayong tutulad doon po sa mga bansang nabanggit po namin ni Mr. President na ang Europa na kung saan siya po ngayon ang epicenter ng global pandemic ay dahil po sila ay naging pabaya sa kanila pong dating ginagawang public health standards,” said the health chief.
According to Duque, the rising COVID-19 infection in European countries should serve as a warning to the Filipinos, noting the pandemic cannot be defeated through vaccination alone.
“We have to increase our vaccination coverage, sustain the trajectory—couple that with a very disciplined compliance to minimum public health standards,” Duque said. PND