Cabaero: Where is unified Covid reporting?

Nini Cabaero

TOTAL deaths at 500,000. Total confirmed cases at 10 million. These were the coronavirus milestones reported as of Sunday, June 28, 2020.

The Johns Hopkins University global tally showed these findings on the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. I thought milestones were about positive developments. These milestones in the tally are far from encouraging.

The Associated Press report on the Johns Hopkins University tally said these milestones come as countries that tried to reopen are now backtracking on their decisions and realizing that the situation could worsen.

What is the coronavirus milestone in the Philippines? It is in Cebu City where a spike in cases has been reported. Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force Covid-19 chief implementer, said Monday that the task force saw a rise in severe and critical cases and rate of death in Cebu City. There is a need to continue with strict restrictions probably for two to three weeks, he added.

The implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) classification for Cebu City and the naming of Secretary Roy Cimatu to an adjunct office under the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) are among the first steps to addressing the Covid-19 crisis.

Another measure mentioned is to unify Cebu City Covid-19 data. Cimatu himself noted the varying and at times conflicting data of the Department of Health (DOH) 7 and the health departments of local government units (LGUs).

Unlike at the national level where there is a one-time release of data every day, Covid-19 numbers in Cebu City by the DOH and the Cebu City Health Department may have different figures and come in separate reports at different times of the day and not even daily. There are reports on total and new cases, recoveries and deaths, and there are reports that provide more information.

“I requested for the regional director for Heath and the City Health director here because...i-harmonize ko yung kanilang figures. Kasi iba yung figure ng regional director, iba yung figures ng mga barangay. Hindi nagkakatugma yung reporting natin. We have to have one figure for Cebu City,” Cimatu said in a press briefing last June 25.

Cimatu said he will ask the National Government’s Covid-19 task force to send a team to Cebu City to help in data management.

The task force’s assistance in medical equipment and supplies and doctors and nurses will now include people who will try to make sense of data reporting here.

Nothing has changed in the reporting since Cimatu’s June 25 statement. Individual updates are still being released or posted on Facebook pages of these government offices.

Data reporting that is systematic and dependable will go a long way to getting the public to understand the gravity of the situation. It is also through unified and verified numbers that the government, as the crisis settles, can show milestones encouraging and worth celebrating.