Another wretched day in the Philippines as over 10,000 new coronavirus cases were logged on March 29, 2021. Another record-breaking count. The World Bank claims the Philippines “highly decentralized” health system, and “super draconian” lockdowns have failed. Meanwhile, even stricter lockdowns are in place in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.
Frankly, the Philippines is in a freefall.
World Bank’s Assessment
Aaditya Mattoo is the World Bank’s chief economist for the East Asia and Pacific region. Mattoo predicts the Philippines’ economic recovery from the coronavirus will fall behind their Southeast Asian neighbors.
“You incurred the economic distress without getting the containment benefit,” Mattoo said. In contrast, countries like China and Vietnam moved swiftly to “smarter containment” measures involving testing and tracing.
“Lockdown is Not the Answer”
The Philippines is in a “far worse” situation than it was when it went on lockdown last August. That’s according to Benedicto Yujuico, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI.)
The PCCI urged government to allow private firms to assist in COVID-19 tracing and the vaccination effort. About 656,331 individuals have been vaccinated across the country in a month. Meanwhile, some mayors and other local government officials, along with an actor, have jumped the vaccination priority line ahead of medical front liners.
Government needs to intensify COVID-19 testing and tracing, as “lockdown is not the answer,” said Yujuico. “We are in a far worse situation today than we were in the beginning of this year and far worse than we were in August.”
It is so regrettable to die from COVID, but it is unforgivable to die of hunger,” says Yujuico.
Philippines’ Worsening COVID-19 Crisis Due to “Leadership Problem”
The worsening COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines is due to government leaders’ failed response to the crisis, a former coronavirus task force advisor said.
“This is about 80 percent leadership problem,” said Dr. Tony Leachon. Leachon is a former adviser to the government’s coronavirus task force.
“This is all about leadership…we should actually step up on the plate right now considering the people are waiting for results,” he added.
For Leachon, the country’s situation, also, is now worse than last year.
“I think we are back to square one but worse than last year given that our problems are not only COVID but we also have non-COVID cases right now,” he said.
Leachon had to leave the task force due to his differences with the Department of Health’s policies, such as its lack of urgency and transparency in communication processes.
I have heard on recent TV news reports in the Philippines that some COVID-19 patients have been waiting in emergency rooms for three days before getting treatment.
Many hospitals have reached capacity. Some people have had to go to three or four hospital emergency rooms before they can find a hospital that will treat them.
The situation in the Philippines is growing worse every day. It seems that the Philippine government needs a total reset on how to deal with the pandemic. Their policies in the past year have not yielded any positive results.
People, like one of our nieces in Manila, cannot even go to work now. Authorities are threatening to extend the strict lockdown by another week or longer.
Only “essential businesses” like pharmacies and grocery stores are open. Curfews in the Metro Manila area now run from 6 pm to 6m.
It’s a chaotic situation, worsening with each passing day.
With reporting from © 2021 Bloomberg L.P. and ABS-CBN News