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Escudero blasts DOH: Dropping mass testing, contract tracing ‘big mistake’

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Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero has lambasted the Department of Health (DOH) for tossing contact tracing and mass testing as part of its COVID-19 response strategy.

Escudero, who is eyeing a Senate comeback, stressed these measures are necessary to isolate and treat people infected with the coronavirus and prevent the spread of the highly transmissible disease.

Escudero described this latest shift in DOH policy as “complete abdication and surrender,” and not a strategy in controlling the dizzying speed of Omicron spread across the country.

“What DOH is doing is not a ‘COVID-19 response strategy’ but a complete abdication and surrender,” said Escudero. “It’s a strategy of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’”

“This is a big mistake and a costly one,” Escudero warned.

The DOH, which is spearheading the government’s COVID-19 response, said it will focus on community interventions rather than use Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test that is very useful to immediately detect, isolate and quarantine individuals who are positive with the coronavirus. Testing will be done for proper clinical management of high risk patients, community management, isolation and vaccination, it added.

The agency also said that contact tracing will take a back seat.

“Wala na ngang libreng mass testing, babawasan pa ang testing! Kawawa naman po tayo. I cannot fathom, much less understand, the logic behind this policy,” Escudero said.

“Again, after trillions of pesos in borrowings, they are still ‘cutting corners,’” he lamented.