‘Hindi kakaunti ‘yan’: Harry Roque told to stop ‘downplaying’ high number of COVID-19 cases, death counts

July 28, 2020 - 7:15 PM
This July 14, 2020 photo shows presidential spokesperson Harry Roque during a press briefing. (Harry Roque/Twitter)

Filipinos are asking presidential spokesperson Harry Roque not to “downplay” the country’s health crisis after he dismissed the increasing numbers of the COVID-19 infections and the low fatality rate compared to the world average in his Tuesday press briefing.

The Palace official in his post State of the Nation Address briefing said that the number of COVID-19 cases as of July 27 was not something to be alarmed of and added that the death rate was only below 2,000 after criticisms on the lack of a pandemic recovery plan.

The total count of COVID-19 cases recorded on July 27 was at 82,040 and the fatalities stood at 1,945.

As of July 28, the country has 83,673 cases in which 55,109 are currently infected with the virus. Meanwhile, there have been 1,947 deaths while the recoveries stand at 26,617.

“Hindi naman po dapat ikabahala nang tuluyan itong numerong ito. Bakit? Dahil kakaunti lang po ang nagkakasakit nang severe o nang acute, wala pa po talagang 10% ang nagkakasakit ng mild at acute,” Roque said as he referred to Monday’s count.

July 27’s data saw mild cases at 90.0% while severe cases stood at 0.5%. Those at critical conditions stood at 0.4%.

Severe and critical COVID-19 cases are those in need of hospitalization.

“At bagamat 80,000 ang ating total nga na kaso—80,000 more or less—ang death rate wala pa pong dalawang libo. So, 2% lang po mahigit kumulang ang ating case mortality rate. Ano ba naman ang gusto ninyo pa?” Roque added in his press briefing.

Based on a local COVID-19 tracker, the country has a fatality rate of 2.37% while the global community averages at 3.97%.

The tracker notes that the country’s fatality rate is “lower” compared to the world average. It is also “seeing better numbers compared to the ASEAN average of 3.07%.”

Meanwhile, Roque’s remarks were featured by some news outlets on social media which eventually earned the ire of some Filipinos, including a physician.

“HINDI KAKAUNTI YAN!!!! Can somebody please bring this idiot to any of the government hospitals in Metro Manila? Para sampalin siya ng mga health workers dun,” community doctor Gene Nisperos tweeted.

“So, ano? Mag worry lang tayo pag libo libo na severe cases? Kailangan lahat muna ma-ICU (intensive care unit) o mamatay bago tayo mabahala? Pag 100,000 na cases, unti pa din ba ang 10%?! One death is already one death too many,” wrote another Twitter user.

“Ay wow? Parang it’s too much to ask for reducing the positive cases everyday ascckk, ‘ang death rate wala pa pong 2,000’ so we need to wait for the number of death to rise more than 2,000 before (you) prioritize the pandemic?” argued another online user.

A Filipino pointed out reports of hospitals declaring full capacity of their COVID-19 beds and exclaimed: “Pero halos puno na ‘yung mga ICU????? Bakit mo dina-downplay ang wala pa sa 10% Iba-ibang isyu kasi inaatupag niyo di niyo inuuna yung healthcare system natin.”

Last week, some Filipinos got frustrated after Roque said that the breach of 70,000 COVID-19 cases was not something to be alarmed of.

READ: For Harry Roque, the more than 70K COVID-19 cases is not ‘alarming.’ But it is for some Filipinos.

Reality check 

The Department of Health on Tuesday reported that the occupancy rate of Metro Manila in terms of ICU beds was already at 73% or in “danger zone” as of July 26.

Meanwhile, the occupancy for both coronavirus and non-coronavirus beds nationwide is at “warning zone” already.

Major hospitals in the National Capital Region have begun declaring full capacity for treating COVID-19 patients this month, including the Philippine General Hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Asian Hospital and Medical Center.

Healthcare workers are also reportedly feeling “demoralized” by the continuous rise of cases in the country.

ABS-CBN News cited an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist who shared that “many health workers, doctors and nurses have reached their tipping point, overwhelmed by the workload while trying their best not to contract coronavirus disease.”

“It has been four months and healthcare workers start to burn out,” Dr. Monica Pia Reyes-Montecillo said in a statement, as quoted by the report.

“Many healthcare workers get sick, and no life is worth one million pesos. We are not superheroes. We are not immune to the virus,” she added.

Reyes-Montecillo bared that many healthcare workers have already resigned while others are feeling demoralized by the situation.

Daryl R. Gaba, a nursing support and patient services assistant director at Makati Medical Center, likewise expressed his concern about the decreasing number of nurses who primarily take care of patients day-to-day.

“The daily surge of infected individuals is now overwhelming our exhausted workforce, decreasing in number, and left short on essential support,” he said in a recent virtual forum.

“Statistics and graphs may give us easy decision points on a national governance level; but think of the experiences of Filipino nurses, each digit is a soul that matters—a brave frontliner who also needs to be rescued,” Gaba added.