Photo: RMC Petro Gazz Arena in Davao, among three new facilities with a total of 607 beds in Davao City to cater to a possible surge in cases. (Davao City Government)
Lessons have been learned about the economic cost of large scale lockdowns: the loss of incomes for both big and small enterprises, and the workers and their families due to restricted mobility pushed all of us to create massive stimulus packages to keep the economy moving. Nonetheless, there is a clamor in some quarters to sustain them, despite the economic costs.
The NEDA has already reported a contraction of our economic growth to about .2%. in the first quarter. Our young population and high growth going into 2020 was a formidable buffer that barely kept us in the black.
The rest of the world is much worse, with a global recession hurting countries with aging populations in particular.
Yet a damocles sword hangs over us: the possibility of second waves of infection that may have already begun even in "mass testing" societies such as China and South Korea.
As we transition to new normals and relaxed restrictions, the fear of the second wave has forced government to rightfully worry about such second waves.
Because of this , the goveenment's Inter agency task force under former AFP Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez already has put in place a system of risk assessment and decision points on when and where to declare quarantines and local lockdowns to address cluster outbreaks.
This seems to be the same system adopted in many other countries likewise recovering from the pandemic.- isolate areas while keeping others free - so that economic activity, and life can go on in less affected areas.
Likewise, these same fears force us to build up our health care capacities parricularly in the regions. Local hospitals in the visayas and nindanao need to beef their capacities up by ensuring annadequate Ventilators, intensive care facilities and stocks of PPEs.
Thankfully, local governments in Cotabato and Davao have prepared large capacity isolation centers in case second waves come. The local task forces are on alert with mechanisms to ensure food distribution.
Reliable COVID 19 testing centers are being readied in the regions to take in the increased need for testing of those with symptoms and those they have been exposed to - a lesson from Vietnam, is now being put in place so that they can be isolated in the forementionend centers. This targeted testing system will serve us for future outbreaks as well.
Private sector networks to help build these capacities and augmenting food supply are also in place and should be sustained to provide quick relief in isolated areas while waiting for government support. This is critical for the rural areas that can be left isolated after calamities.
Dependence on metro manila hospitals for higher level treatment and policy guidance and should no longer the rule.
These are all possible manifestations of the Test, Trace and treat capacity, something we will need to ensure at the local level, as this is what will build confidence in our society as we move into the coming months. We pray that they be completed as quickly as possible.