DOH urged to learn from ASEAN neighbors’ ‘best practices’ vs COVID-19

A House leader on Wednesday urged the Department of Health (DoH) to secure “best practices” from the country’s neighbors in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region in fighting coronavirus disease-19 (COVID)-19.

“We have to learn from the experiences of Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand and the smaller countries which are clearly winning the war against the coronavirus disease,” said Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments.

Rodriguez said the DoH could inquire from its counterparts or through diplomatic and professional communication channels what measures these ASEAN nations have adopted in successfully combatting the pandemic.

He made the appeal after seeing a De La University report comparing COVID-19 infection cases, deaths and recoveries among the 11 member-countries of ASEAN.

In a related development, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite advised the government to focus on educating people about the importance of staying at home instead of sending soldiers to the streets.

"The deployment of combat units and armored vehicles in communities is an unnecessary display of force. Instead of intimidation and coercion, the government must embark on a mass education campaign about the virus to create awareness about the need to stay at home. It must convince the people of the importance of preventive quarantine by providing them information they can understand and easily follow,” said Gaite.

"The government must understand that the key to a successful crisis response is the active involvement of a population that is well informed. The government must shift towards a more democratic response instead of increasingly authoritarian measures. They should continue and improve the Bahay Muna, Buhay Muna campaign of information and education. And if I may add, it should also say Bayan Muna, for we should be doing this as a nation fighting as one against the pandemic," Gaite stressed.

Rodriguez also said though Singapore had the highest number of cases at 9,215 as of Tuesday, it had far fewer deaths at 11, compared to the Philippines’ 6,599 cases and 437 fatalities.

He noted that Singapore’s cases started to increase in last week due to new infections reported among foreign workers housed in state-built dormitories.

The De La Salle report shows that Laos, East Timor, Cambodia, Brunei and Vietnam had the fewest cases at 19, 23, 122, 138, and 268, respectively, with not even a single death, except for Brunei, which had one fatality.

Following Singapore in most infections was Indonesia with 7,135, with the Philippines in second place, followed by Malaysia with 5,482, and Thailand with 2,811.

In terms of deaths, Indonesia had the highest number with 616, followed by the Philippines, and Malaysia and Thailand, with 92 and 48, respectively.

Vietnam conducted the most number of tests at 206,253, followed by Thailand at 142,589, and Malaysia at 106, 216. The Philippines had 59,928 tests, while Singapore had 94,796.

Rodriguez said the DoH has noted in recent days that the COVID-19 curve has started to go down.

“This is a welcome development, and we hope cases continue to decrease so we can all return to our normal lives soon,” he said.