NOT A NEGATIVE REFLECTION. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defends the government’s response against pandemic during Palace briefing on Monday (April 26, 2021). Roque said the country’s Covid-19 cases hitting 1 million mark is not a negative reflection of the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. (Screengrab from RTVM)

MANILA – Malacañang on Monday said the country’s Covid-19 infections hitting 1 million mark is not “negative reflection” of the government’s pandemic response.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that the government is doing a good job preventing the spread of new virus strains in the country.

“I don’t think it is a negative reflection…We are managing still the new variants rather well,” he said in a virtual press briefing.

On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 8,929 new cases, increasing the country’s total confirmed Covid-19 infections to 1,006,428. It also logged 11,333 recoveries and 70 deaths, bringing the recovery tally to 914,952 and the death toll to 16,853.

Instead of looking at the country’s total Covid-19 cases, Roque said the best indicator on whether the country is successful in its response is by looking at Covid-19 recoveries.

“Huwag niyo po titignan lamang ang 1 million cases. Unang-una, halos 900,000 na po ang gumaling diyan…Kung ikukumpara mo ito sa buong daigdig, bumaba na po ang ranking natin ibig sabihin mas humusay pa yung ating ranking sa buong mundo (Don’t just look at the nearly 1 million cases. First, around 900,000 have recovered…If you compare it to other countries, our ranking is much lower which means our ranking improved),” he said.

Roque said the Philippines currently ranks 26th in the world in terms of total Covid-19 infections based on data from Johns Hopkins and the World Health Organization (WHO) Covid-19 Dashboard.

He also explained that an increase in Covid-19 cases cannot be avoided amid new virus strains and limited vaccine supply.

“Itong paglobo po ng numero, hindi lang po Pilipinas ‘yan. Yung ranking natin na bumaba tayo patunay po na mas maraming kaso dun sa mga iba’t ibang mga bansa (This increase in numbers is not unique to the Philippines. But our lower ranking is proof that there are more cases in other countries),” he added.

Meanwhile, Roque said the government’s pandemic task force is expected to discuss this week the new quarantine classifications for May.

He earlier said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) would look into the analytics of the healthcare system of the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus and the rest of the country.

Dr. John Wong, consultant for the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, said easing quarantine classification would depend on how well people comply with the wearing of face masks and physical distancing; how fast can the national government and local government unit identify people with Covid-19 symptoms and test, isolate, and quarantine them; and how well indoor businesses with crowds observe the 2-out-3 rule: ventilation, masking, and physical distancing.

He noted that the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ) in NCR Plus “worked,” but stressed the national and local government still need to monitor and report “on how well they are performing on these indicators.”

“Without accountability or visibility on these indicators, I would say we’re not yet ready for GCQ,” Ong said. (PNA)