The Philippines’ positivity rate, a measurement of how many people test positive for COVID-19 for tests conducted, is now at 10%, which meets the benchmark set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In today’s media forum, Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire discussed the welcome news with Dr. Edsel Salvana and Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, both members of the Technical Advisory Group that advises the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
Considering that the country has been ramping up its testing capacity, and that the strategy for testing targets high-risk individuals, the low positivity rate has strengthened the DOH’s confidence that the overall strategy to beat COVID-19 has had a profound effect on preventing the infection spread.
“Dahil dumadami na ang tests available, pwede na tayong mag-progress from severe to critically ill to asymptomatic to mild symptoms,” said Lim.
She further said that because test allocations are being expanded outside of the original priority segment, “We can expect that the number of positive cases will be dropping.”
Salvana shared this sentiment as he noted that the testing capacity has increased at least 20-fold, but the results are still low in terms of positivity, and that he is confident that part of this success is due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
“May Epekto talaga ang ginawa nating ECQ,” he said. “Nag-start tayo 300 tests a day, now we can do 7,000 tests a day.”
This explains why they are confident that the curve is beginning to flatten despite a gradual increase in the absolute number of cases. Salvana also explained the importance of strengthening the other areas of the strategy in addressing the pandemic.
“The more important factors are also what you do with the testing,” he explained as he emphasized the vital role that tracing, treatment, and isolation play in preventing further transmission of the virus. 
“We are able to react properly, much more targeted,” he added. “In the long run, we can modify our strategy knowing that we have the testing and isolation para ma-gradually lift.
“The fact na hindi pa na-o-overewhelm ang ating health care system, in a way, the objective na shut down ng maaga has already done its job and on top of that, na-i-increase ang health care capacity natin and naaabot ang target for isolation and target capacity of the hospitals.”
Call for More COVID-19 Warriors
In today’s Beat COVID-19 Virtual Press Conference, Dr. Dominic “Meng” Maddumba, a graduate of the DOH Doctor-to-the-Barrios program, called for more COVID-19 Warriors, which includes but is not limited to healthcare workers, to fight in what Vergeire dubs as “World War C.”
“Ang laban ng COVID-19 ay hindi lamang sa big cities, kung hindi ito isang national concern” said Maddumba. “Kailangang natin labanan sa bawa’t barrio, sa bawat muninsipio, at sa bawat siyudad.
“Kung kailangan natin itodo ang ating efforts para mawakasan talaga itong sakit na ito, kailangan natin na mas madaming mga bayani na kailangang maglingkod sa ating mga tao, sa mga health facilities, at mga ospital,” he further noted.
Maddumba explained that the DOH is continuing its mass hiring program to bolster its strength over the coming weeks. With the healthcare system better prepared now than it was two months ago, applicants are offered a variety of benefits beyond the basic salary, premium, and safety assurance. Hazard pay, insurance benefits, and hospitalization coverage will also be available to the dream team of COVID19 heroes.
Additional Measure for Keeping Senior Citizens Healthy
Vergeire also reported that Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III recent amendment to Administrative Order No. 2012-0007A, or the Guidelines on the Grant of 20% Discount to Senior Citizens on Health-Related Goods and for Other Purposes, to include vitamins and mineral supplements in its scope. The Administrative Order will take effect 30 days after publication.
“Nais po naming paalalahanan ang lahat na pangalagaan po natin ang mga sakitin at ang mga senior citizen habang wala pang gamot o bakuna laban sa COVID-19. Bagamat marami sa ating mga senior citizens ay malakas at masigla, pinapakita ng datos natin na sila ang madalas mahawahan at magkasakit ng COVID-19,” she said.