Want to slow down COVID-19 infections? People must behave in the pandemic — former Health chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 30) - Apart from targeted testing, former Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said the people should understand the consequences of getting infected with COVID-19 to slow down the number of cases.

“Regardless if you are tested or not, you should behave accordingly and not be careless and spread the infection and get yourself infected,” Dayrit told CNN Philippines. “It's very important for citizens to understand that because you never know how you will get infected.”

During his stint in the Health department in 2003, Dayrit also faced a similar outbreak caused by coronavirus: severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

They only relied during that time to clinical and x-ray check-ups, and isolation of patients, he shared. However, despite the tests being done on COVID-19 patients today, Dayrit said that these are not effective to track the infections.

“Whereas for COVID-19 we have PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and antibody[rapid] tests but even when we have these, they are not perfect. You can have false positive and false negative results,” he said.

Currently, there are 48 laboratories in the country conducting COVID-19 testing.

But unlike SARS patients, Dayrit said people should be more careful because some COVID-19 patients could be asymptomatic.

“One of the things that we want to prevent are super spreading events, where people come together and there is an infected person, perhaps asymptomatic or perhaps symptomatic,” he said. “In that event, a number of cases could actually occur because the transmission spread to them.”

READ: Metro Manila eases to GCQ on June 1

The country has now recorded more than 16,000 cases with around 3,700 recoveries and 900 deaths.

He said that the government or the private sector could make a way to convince people to act with extra precaution during the pandemic.

“We can only keep persuading people. We can only get them to understand that if they get infected that they would be lucky if it's only a mild infection and they can walk away from it,” he said.

“This is the only way I think we can slow down the infection and not spend so much money doing what we have to do to test as many people as we can,” added Dayrit.