MARIVELES, Bataan — Impessed by Bataan’s successfull strategy in mitigating the dreaded coronavirus, National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday said he wants to adopt what he called ‘good lessons learned from the province.”
Galvez cites the strong leadership of Governor Abet S. Garcia and Mayor Jocelyn P. Castañeda in handling the COVID pandemic.
Former mayor and now administrator Angel ‘Boboy’ Peliglorio also lauded Garcia.
“ Ang galing ni Gov. Abet sa pag-address niya sa COVID; dami niyang pinadadalang ayuda sa mga mamamayan,” said Peliglorio.
During the NTF and Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) team’s visit to the province Tuesday, Galvez and his team who came all the way from Manil, lauded the provincial and local governments for their swift response to the the increasing COVID cases, particularly in Mariveles town.
“You were able to bring it down to a 48 percent negative growth in just a matter of two weeks,” Galvez said.
Aside from this, the secretary also cited the sincerity of the province to continuously contain the spread of the disease by taking contact tracing seriously.
“We have seen that you have a very good ratio of 1:10 to 1:15 in terms of contact tracing efforts, as compared to just 1:4 in other places. In addition, you were able to train more than 15% of your personnel in terms of contact tracing,” the NTF chief said.
Galvez added that one of the best practices of the province also is its aggressiveness in terms of testing and isolation.
“Testing is important because we have an unseen enemy. In order to see, we have to detect. Testing and contact tracing are our best weapons in this fight,” he said.
However, despite these efforts, Galvez stressed the need to incorporate and strengthen active case finding and syndromic surveillance to sustain the downward trend in active cases.
Galvez added that there is also a need to concentrate on prevention and detection, especially now that there is a need to open up the economy.
“About 85% of the work should be dedicated to prevention in order to avert further transmission of the disease,” Galvez said.
Since Bataan has a big potential to contribute to the national economy because of its economic zone, the secretary stressed the need for prevention strategies through behavior change of its people in dealing with the virus.
“Under the third phase of our strategy, we need to open up the economy. Despite the risks, we cannot go into lockdowns because it is not sustainable and many people will die of hunger. That is why there is a need to change their mindset and consciousness that they have to protect themselves because by doing so, they can protect their livelihood and the economy,” he explained.
With this, he recommends that local governments also identify and appoint their own prevention, detection, testing, and isolation czars to efficiently delegate responsibilities.
Meanwhile, Galvez also cited the innovative practices of Bataan such as the kindness centers, Kusina sa Barangay, and the zero-billing policy in hospitals.
C.O.D.E is a response initiative to give support to local government units with limited capabilities and resources in order to mitigate localized transmission at the community level through enhanced surveillance strategy and expanded testing capacity.