TAGUIG CITY (25 September 2020) — Top government officials lauded the success of this city in its fight against COVID-19, saying other local government units (LGU) in the country should replicate Taguig’s aggressive campaign in addressing the public health crisis.
Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) chairman and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that “the collective effort of Taguig City is really inspiring and worth emulating to all the other local government units.”
“Nasasaksihan po natin ang pagiging isang modelo ng siyudad ng Taguig na tingin po namin ay dapat tularan ng iba pang pamahalaang lokal hindi lamang dito sa NCR kundi sa buong Pilipinas lalo na kung saan namamayagpag ang COVID-19,” Duque added.
Duque made the announcement following the opening of the Taguig COVID megacomplex, which was designed for conducive to healing and recovery.
The sprawling complex houses a national testing facility, a molecular laboratory, and a 500-bed isolation facility.
The testing facility, which was originally located at the Enderun Colleges, was moved to the complex to centralize all COVID-19 related operations in one area.
Also housed in the megacomplex is the 500-bed isolation facility called the “Lakeshore Hotel.” Each COVID-19 patient will be isolated in an airconditioned container house, which are equipped with a separate toilet and bath.
As of September 23, Taguig remains to be the city with the lowest number of active COVID-19 cases in the NCR. It has only 389 active cases for its 6,988 confirmed cases.
The city has a case fatality rate of 0.78% – one of the lowest attack rates in the country. The city has already tested more than five percent of its citizens.
Roughly 94% of those infected with the virus were able to reintegrated back to the society.
“Pinagmamalaki natin ito (Taguig COVID megacomplex). This is a model facility,” Duque said.
He said although not all LGUs in the country has the resources of Taguig but worth emulating is the city’s implementation of the strategies contained in National Action Plan, particularly the aspects of prevention – strictly following the minimum health standards-, contact tracing, testing, treatment, and reintegration.
Duque also emphasized that the city’s sanitization is crucial why it was able to address the pandemic head on.
Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano attributed these positive developments to the strong coordination between the national and local government, the relentless service of healthcare workers, and particularly the empowerment of barangays’ COVID response mechanisms.
“This facility is a testament of [the] good coordination between the national and local government,” Mayor Cayetano said.
“Ang binibigyan po natin ng puri sa ating victory ay ‘yung masisipag, magagaling, matatapang nating mga healthcare workers, government and private frontliners, at ‘yung matibay na pakikipag-ugnayan ng national at local government,” Cayetano said.
“Testament also ‘dun sa pag-empower sa amin ‘yung paniniwala ng ating pangulo, ‘yung paniniwala niya through [Interior] Sec. Eduardo Año, dun sa LGUs. Taguig City also believes in empowering the barangays. Taguig City released Php 1 million per barangay. The second tranche, which is PHP 500,000 is also released this week. They can use this for their COVID-related programs and projects,” he added.
Secretary Año, who is also the vice-chair of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said that Taguig City’s COVID megacomplex is comparable to a well-equipped “processing plant.”
“Ang ginawa ng ating Mayor ay parang processing plant, na kumpleto, hanggang umuwi ang ating mga COVID patients. Mula testing, contact tracing, isolation, hanggang sa reintegration,” he noted.
Año also noted that the location of the isolation facility is “very much conducive to healing and recovery” of patients.
Taguig City is also one of the only three cities in the NCR to have its own DOH-accredited molecular laboratory, together with Valenzuela City and Marikina City. The laboratory targets to conduct 100,000 RT-PCR tests by the end of the year, which is equivalent to 10% of the local population.
The “victory” achieved by this city in its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic should also be considered a national victory, according to National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Sec. Carlito G. Galvez Jr.
Galvez said the city still managed to deliver a “complete local victory” despite the many challenges brought about by the pandemic.
He noted that Taguig is a major economic hub with a sizeable and highly-mobile workforce and densely-populated barangays. However, the city was still able to effectively contain local transmissions.
“Maraming iba na tumutuligsa sa atin na our fight for COVID-19 is a failure. Sana tingnan nila ang Taguig. This is a complete local victory that we have, that despite the challenges na almost 7,000 ang inyong cases, at isa kayo sa economic hub na napakahirap i-control ng movement ng different workers, at the same time may densely-populated area kayo, you were able to bring down your active cases to only 389,” he said.
Leadership key to successful COVID-19 response
Galvez stressed the importance of good leadership to effectively and efficiently manage and respond to the health crisis.
“Nakita po namin na leadership is key. Ang leadership ni Mayor Lino Cayetano, talagang very dynamic, visionary and forward-looking, very strategic, at long-term effects ang iniisip. Nakita ko ang strategy ni Mayor Cayetano, pinababa niya ang active cases way below to a very manageable level while agressively increasing Taguig’s isolation and treatment capacity. That is an act of good management and leadership,” he said.
NTF COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon said the city for its holistic and integrated approach in fighting the pandemic.
“Meron pong mga LGU na magaling sa testing. Meron pong magaling sa contact tracing, pero tingin ko po, sa numero pa lang na nakita natin ngayon, isa ang ang Taguig City sa iilang LGUs na magaling sa lahat — sa testing, tracing, isolation, treatment, at reintegration,” he said.
Adequate healthcare facilities essential to address COVID-19 surge
In the meantime, Galvez emphasized the need for cities to have adequate local epidemiological surveillance units, contact tracing teams, healthcare and isolation facilities and establish their own molecular testing labaratories to prevent and anticipate spikes in COVID-19 cases, especially in GCQ and MGCQ areas.
Some highly urbanized cities have seen a steep rise in coronavirus cases after shifting to MGCQ due to the lack of proactive surveilance, testing and healthcare facilities. ###