After two months under varied quarantine regimes across the country, this is what we have learned:
1. Many regions do not have the same number of cases, let alone new cases, as Metro Manila.
2. Local governments and regional bodies have managed better than others, and those that relax restrictions earlier will see their local economies, and residents lives, inproving earlier.
3. The inter agency task force has come up with guidelines for local governments to implement as they see fit. some are stricter than others.
4. The virus will not stop spreading until a vaccine is developed. We will have new cases either way. That`s the same case all over the world.
5. Flattening the curve was not meant to prevent new cases from spreading per se. It was meant to keep the number of new cases low so that health care capacities in regions can cope with new new cases. Epidemiologists all agree on these.
6. Most cases, as much as 95% are mild and recoverable with rudimentary medications.
7. Obviously, more tests conducted will yield more positive results. We are seeing that now with almost 300,000 unique tests, a figure higher than Japan and Vietnam.
With these premises clarified, it is safe to deduce that new cases are bound to happen, even accelerate as lockdowns are lifted. Owing to the high level of contagion, second waves are imminent while vaccines are not available. Few people will actually die. That much we know.
This being the case, what matters at the moment is that local health care capacities have been given the time and capability to upgrade themselves to deal with surges in the number of cases. This include additional isolation centers and testing facilities.
A look at the Department of Health`s COVID Tracker (https://www.doh.gov.ph/covid19tracker) lists not only the total number of new cases, rexoveries snd deaths but the available number of beds, isolation and testing facilities have increased from just the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to about 39 other testing centers throughout the country.
After two months, we can clearly see that capabilities outstrip the number of cases and possible new ones.
After the same two months, we also know that we are now manufacturing N95 masks and personal protective equipment locally.
It is possible that in case a surge comes, we will be better able to handle the increased cases without the need for the same lockdowns. After two months we have already learned lessons that will serve us in the future.