The Philippine government has come in for a lot of criticism for their handling of the pandemic and rightly so. For far too long their people have had such little faith in their government doing right by them, but unfortunately, nothing seems to have changed. The archipelago has seen one of the highest rates of infection in the region and the numbers would undoubtedly be much higher if there was mass testing or less scepticism about coming forward if people suspect infection. 

What is seen as government incompetence or borderline negligence, combined with such low expectations from the Philippine people, makes for a negative effect on the country as a whole. In terms of the economy, health and the future of the population who have had to endure hardships in these areas for the past half-century, this does not bode well. 

We take a look at the improvements the Philippine government needs to make in their response to the covid-19 pandemic.

Mass testing

At the moment, people only get tested if they believe they have symptoms of the virus, are a part of a contact-tracing list, or more commonly, if they need it in order to travel. Such a strategy – or lack of – in order to find and prevent infections, clearly does not and has not worked, yet there has been no change from the government. Their way of containment is to lock down whole cities or small neighbourhoods with the hopes the virus doesn’t spread beyond this, and this has proven grossly ineffective as we can see from the constantly rising infection numbers. Mass testing needs to be done so we can really see the true level of infection and only then will they be able to formulate a plan to tackle it.

Allow home quarantine

Currently, people are required to quarantine at Department of Health (DOH) mandated hotels and centres. While there is no problem with this if done properly, it is not. Centres are often inadequate and may just be mattresses in school classrooms shared with others in quarantine – not so useful if they are not separate, sharing the same air with others who could be positive with the virus. Some of the chosen quarantine hotels have also been deemed inadequate for the price paid by those staying there as well as not providing enough food, meaning they often have to order for delivery – further increasing quarantine costs.

The solution to these issues? Allow home quarantine if they have their own living space. It is unnecessary and a huge financial burden for many of the population to stay at a quarantine centre or hotel when they have even more suitable quarantining conditions at home. An efficient room booking system should also be created to keep track of people quarantining and where they intend to stay. This may seem obvious, but unfortunately, it is not.

Increase frontliners pay

For the past two years, frontliners such as nurses and janitors have borne the brunt of the Government’s pandemic response. With little respite and a monthly salary that can be earned in a day in a developed country, there is little wonder that these people are quitting in droves. The Philippines is seen as a training camp for nurses who are sent abroad to work, but now they are being driven out due to immense work pressures and the tiny compensation for their efforts. The Government should be doing more to encourage them and reward them for their hard work during the most difficult period of this generation.