SENATOR and chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go stressed the utmost importance of implementing and complying with basic health and safety protocols following the recent confirmation of the presence of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) variant in the Philippines.
“Despite the entry of the new COVID-19 variant, plans and protocols are already in place. We have a roadmap towards recovery. But government cannot do this alone. We need your support and cooperation to overcome these challenges and recover as one,” Go said in a statement.
The B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2 variant was detected in a 29-year-old Filipino from Quezon City who arrived in the country on January 7 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The new variant is significantly more contagious and has caused a surge in cases, particularly in the United Kingdom where it was first detected, and other parts of the world.
“Bagama’t nakakabahala na nakapasok na ito sa ating bansa, patunay rin ito ng mahigpit nating pagbantay at pag-implementa ng protocols, katulad ng genomic surveillance. Lessons learned tayo dito,” Go said.
“Kung gaano kabilis kumalat ang sakit na ito, mas mabilis pa dapat ang ating aksyon at mas paigtingin pa natin ang pag-iingat. Kaya importante na huwag nating balewalain ang mga patakaran na dapat sundin. Back to basics po tayo dito, dahil ang simpleng patakaran dito ay makakapagligtas ng buhay natin at ng ating kapwa Pilipino,” he explained.
The Senator specifically reminded Filipinos to comply with basic health protocols to help save lives.
“Bilang chair po ng Senate Committee on Health, patuloy ang panawagan ko na sundin natin ang lahat ng mga itinakdang health and safety protocols — katulad ng pagsuot ng mask, face shield, madalas na paghugas ng kamay, at pag-obserba ng social distancing, pag-iwas sa pagkumpol-kumpol, at manatili muna sa loob ng ating bahay kung hindi naman po kailangang lumabas ng inyong mga pamamahay,” he reminded.
He also urged authorities to strengthen contact tracing efforts and ensure that quarantine protocols are followed without exemptions to further boost the pandemic response and reduce the strain on the healthcare system.
“Huwag tayong maging kumpyansa. Walang pinipili ang sakit na ito, kaya no exemptions dapat. Buhay po ng bawat Pilipino ang unahin natin at huwag ang ating sarili lamang,”said Go.
“Gawin natin ang dapat para hindi tumaas pa lalo ang bilang ng mga kaso sa bansa at hindi ma-overwhelm ang ating mga health facilities. Kung tataas ang bilang ng mga kaso, mas mahihirapan po tayo,” he added.
To achieve population or herd immunity as soon as possible, he called on the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and all agencies involved to expedite the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure the seamless implementation of the vaccine roadmap.
“Bilisan po natin ang roll-out ng mga bakuna kontra COVID-19 at unahin po natin ang mga mahihirap at mga nasa vulnerable sectors na kailangan talagang lumabas para mabuhay — ito po yung mga isang kahig, isang tuka, at ang mga frontliners natin, upang unti-unti na po tayong makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay,” he stressed.
The national government allotted an initial budget of P10 billion through the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, and P72.5 billion in the 2021 General Appropriations Act for vaccine procurement, including logistics, storage and other needed supplies.
Besides direct procurement, there are three other modes of vaccine financing, namely bilateral loans, multilateral loans, and private sector financing at no cost to the government through a tripartite agreement involving the government, pharmaceutical company and private sector.
Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government is in varying stages of negotiation with several pharmaceutical companies to secure a minimum of 137 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Their target is to start the rollout before the end of the first quarter of 2021.
On this note, the senator stressed the need for a whole-of-nation approach in collaboration with national agencies, local government units and the private sector to establish a sustainable and fully integrated vaccine deployment and immunization program.
“Sa mga kababayan ko, huwag po tayo mag-panic. Patuloy po tayong sumunod sa mga otoridad at magmalasakit po sa ating kapwa. Huwag po kayong mag-alala dahil ginagawa naman po natin ang lahat upang maprotektahan ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” assured Go.
“If we do these together the right way, we will save lives, recover our economy faster and restore normalcy in the lives of our people. Magbayanihan po tayo! Magmalasakit po tayo sa ating kapwa Pilipino,” he continued.