Robredo to gov't.: Increase testing, vaccination during ECQ to achieve 'last lockdown'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 4) — Vice President Leni Robredo offered Wednesday her recommendations on the government's pandemic response as Metro Manila shifts to the strictest enhanced community quarantine on Friday.

In a statement, Robredo said a higher testing and vaccination capacity among other measures that do not stick to the "status quo" should be implemented so that Malacañang's hope for the "last ever lockdown" will be achieved.

Increase testing capacity to 120,000 daily

Robredo said that from around 50,000 COVID-19 tests being conducted in the Philippines per day, the government must aim to increase this target to 120,000 daily.

Testing czar Vince Dizon said in a briefing that they are still doing "risk-based testing," or testing symptomatic people and contacts of positive and symptomatic cases. He added capacity will be ramp up if needed.

"In terms of capacity to test, if we need to test a lot of people at one time, we have that especially in NCR and the big cities all over the country. We are averaging 40-50,000 a day but if needed to ramp up based on the risk profile, we now have the capacity to do that unlike a year ago," he said.

Unified contact tracing

"'Yung contact tracing, labo-labo pa rin, ang daming app, ibig sabihin ang daming database. Pag-isahin na natin 'yan," she said.

[Translation: Contact tracing is still mixed up, since there are a lot of apps, this means there are a lot of databases to consider. We should just combine them all.]

Prepare hospitals for possible surge

Robredo said the government should help hospitals prepare for the surge in cases by hiring more medical personnel and by ensuring access to medicines, oxygen, and other equipment.

She also warned against those who might take advantage of higher prices of available medical supply.

Increase vaccination to 750,000 daily

From the current 500,000 daily inoculations, Robredo said administered COVID-19 shots should now be increased to 750,000 a day "to easily reach herd immunity."

Faster aid distribution

She also called for a faster and more efficient distribution of cash aid for pandemic-hit families and businesses.

Eligible beneficiaries will be given ₱1,000 with a maximum of ₱4,000 cash assistance during the lockdown.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Benhur Abalos earlier said local government units in Metro Manila will still likely opt for face-to-face distribution during the ECQ. No date has been set yet for the start of the distribution.

Metro Manila will shift to ECQ on Aug.6 to Aug.20 to control the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.