WHO Says Social Distancing Is Buying Time. COVID-19 Testing Is the Real Attack Plan
Nearly a third of the global population is currently on lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. It's a sound strategy when looking at the short term, but according to the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, it's just "buying time."
In his latest media briefing, Ghebreyesus said, "Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems. But on their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics."
"The point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives. We call on all countries who have introduced so-called 'lockdown' measures to use this time to attack the virus."
The director-general then advised countries to train and deploy health workers and frontliners; implement a system for every suspected case; ramping up production of tests; equipping facilities for isolation; planning a process for quarantining; refocusing all focus on controlling COVID-19.
One country that's ahead of the curve is South Korea. As early as February, the country initiated a strategy close to mass testing that included drive-thru testing facilities. At its peak, the country reported 909 cases in a day. Now, the new number of cases has fallen to less than a 100—effectively flattening the curve.
It's a move that the Philippines can't model itself on just yet, with only 2,000 testing kits left as of last week. But, Department of Health secretary Francisco Duque III says it's impractical to test just about anyone. "I'll test what, 104 million Filipinos? Hindi yata tama 'yun. Unang una, that is [impractical] so merong guide tayo, may protocol tayo diyan," Duque said.
Testing kits will soon be pouring into the country, however. The Department of Health ordered 40,000 testing kits early this month, while the Chinese government has reportedly donated medical supplies that include 100,000 testing kits.