TOP government officials lauded yesterday Taguig City’s success in its fight against Covid-19, saying other local government units (LGU) in the country should replicate the city’s aggressive campaign in addressing the public health crisis.
Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) chairman and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that “the collective effort of Taguig City is really inspiring and worth emulating (for) all the other local government units.”
“Nasasaksihan po natin ang pagiging isang modelo ng siyudad ng Taguig na tingin po namin ay dapat tularan ng iba pang pamahalaang lokal hindi lamang dito sa NCR kundi sa buong Pilipinas lalo na kung saan namamayagpag ang Covid-19,” Duque added.
(Translation: We are witnessing the city of Taguig’s being a model which we think should be imitated by other local governments not just here in the NCR (National Capital Region) but throughout the Philippines, especially where Covid-19 is spreading fast.)
Duque made the announcement following the opening of the Taguig Covid mega-complex, which was designed to be conducive to healing and recovery.
The sprawling complex houses a national testing facility, a molecular laboratory, and a 500-bed isolation facility. It was originally located at the Enderun Colleges (in Bonifacio Global City). It was moved to the complex to centralize all Covid-19 related operations in one area.
Also housed in the mega-complex is the 500-bed isolation facility called the “Lakeshore Hotel.” Each Covid-19 patient will be isolated in an air-conditioned container house, which is equipped with a separate toilet and bath.
As of September 23, Taguig remains to be the city with the lowest number of active Covid-19 cases in the NCR. It has only 389 active cases for its 6,988 confirmed cases.
The city has a case fatality rate of 0.78% — one of the lowest attack rates in the country. It has already tested more than five percent of its citizens.
Roughly 94% of those infected with the virus were able to reintegrated back into society.
“Pinagmamalaki natin ito (Taguig COVID megacomplex). This is a model facility,” Duque said.
(Translation: We are proud of the Taguig Covid-19 mega-complex.)
He said although not all LGUs in the country have the resources of Taguig, but worth emulating is the city’s implementation of the strategies contained in the National Action Plan (NAP), particularly the aspects of prevention — strictly following the minimum health standards — contact tracing, testing, treatment, and reintegration.
Duque also emphasized that the city’s sanitization is crucial as to why it was able to address the pandemic head on.
Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano attributed these positive developments to the strong coordination between the national and local governments, the relentless service of healthcare workers, and particularly the empowerment of barangays’ Covid response mechanisms.
“This facility is a testament of [the] good coordination between the national and local governments,” Mayor Cayetano pointed out.
“Ang binibigyan po natin ng puri sa ating victory ay ‘yung masisipag, magagaling, matatapang nating mga healthcare workers, government and private frontliners, at ‘yung matibay na pakikipag-ugnayan ng national at local government,” Cayetano said.
(Translation: We are praising for our victory those industrious, good, and brave healthcare workers, government and private front-liners, and the strong collaboration between the national and local governments.)
“Testament also ‘dun sa pag-empower sa amin ‘yung paniniwala ng ating pangulo, ‘yung paniniwala niya through [Interior] Sec. Eduardo Año, dun sa LGUs.
(Translation: It is also a testament to our empowerment through the trust of the President [Rodrigo R. Duterte] through [nterior] Secretary Eduardo Año.)
“Taguig City also believes in empowering the barangays. Taguig City released Php1 million per barangay. The second tranche, which is Php500,000 was also released this week. They can use this for their Covid-19 related programs and projects,” he added.
Año, who is also the vice-chair of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, said that Taguig City’s Covid mega-complex is comparable to a well-equipped “processing plant.”
“Ang ginawa ng ating Mayor ay parang processing plant, na kumpleto, hanggang umuwi ang ating mga COVID patients. Mula testing, contact tracing, isolation, hanggang sa reintegration,” he noted.
(Translation: What our mayor did is like a processing plant, complete, up to the time our Covid patients go home. From testing, contract tracing, isolation, up to isolation.)
Año also noted that the location of the isolation facility is “very much conducive to healing and recovery” of patients.
Taguig City is also one of only three cities in the NCR to have its own Department of Health (DOH)-accredited molecular laboratory, together with Valenzuela City and Marikina City. The laboratory targets to conduct 100,000 RT-PCR tests by the end of the year, which is equivalent to 10% of the local population.
The “victory” achieved by this city in its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic should also be considered a national victory, according to the National Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr.
He said the city still managed to deliver a “complete local victory” despite the many challenges brought about by the pandemic.
Galvez noted that Taguig is a major economic hub with a sizable and highly-mobile workforce and densely-populated barangays. However, the city was still able to effectively contain local transmissions.
“Maraming iba na tumutuligsa sa atin na (Many are critizing as that) our fight (versus) Covid-19 is a failure. Sana tingnan nila ang (They should know about) Taguig. This is a complete local victory that we have, that despite the challenges na almost 7,000 ang inyong cases, at isa kayo sa economic hub na napakahirap i-control ng movement ng different workers, at the same time may densely-populated area kayo, you were able to bring down your active cases to only 389,” he said.
Leadership key to successful COVID-19 response
Galvez stressed the importance of good leadership to effectively and efficiently manage and respond to the health crisis.
“Nakita po namin na leadership is key. Ang leadership ni Mayor Lino Cayetano, talagang very dynamic, visionary and forward-looking, very strategic, at long-term effects ang iniisip. Nakita ko ang strategy ni Mayor Cayetano, pinababa niya ang active cases way below to a very manageable level while agressively increasing Taguig’s isolation and treatment capacity. That is an act of good management and leadership,” he said.
NTF COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon praised the city for its holistic and integrated approach in fighting the pandemic.
“Meron pong mga LGU na magaling sa testing. Meron pong magaling sa contact tracing, pero tingin ko po, sa numero pa lang na nakita natin ngayon, isa ang ang Taguig City sa iilang LGUs na magaling sa lahat — sa testing, tracing, isolation, treatment, at reintegration,” he said.
Adequate healthcare facilities essential to address Covid-19 surge
In the meantime, Galvez emphasized the need for cities to have adequate local epidemiological surveillance units, contact tracing teams, healthcare and isolation facilities and establish their own molecular testing laboratories to prevent and anticipate spikes in Covid-19 cases, especially in GCQ (General Community Quarantine) and Modified GCQ GCQ) areas.
Some highly urbanized cities have seen a steep rise in coronavirus cases after shifting to MGCQ due to the lack of proactive surveillance, testing and healthcare facilities. (✓)