Philippines adapts Hammer and Dance strategy vs. Covid-19

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The comprehensive strategy against the COVID-19, the Hammer and Dance, earlier introduced by international author Tomas Pueyo, is the central thrust of the National Action Plan against the disease currently undertaken by the government.

With the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF COVID-19) taking the lead, the Philippine government has recalibrated its steps and goal this pre-vaccine era to balance both reopening of the economy and capacitating the healthcare system.


The comprehensive strategy against the COVID-19, the Hammer and Dance, earlier introduced by international author Tomas Pueyo, is the central thrust of the National Action Plan against the disease currently undertaken by the government.

In an interview, Tomas Pueyo stressed the need for every country to take its focus on the extensive gathering of data to provide context and insight on how to control the disease.

“They do tell us what is happening at a high level. They never tell us the reality on the ground, but they give us a sense of where it’s going,” he said during Friday’s Cabinet Report sa Teleradyo episode with host Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar.

Pueyo discussed the Hammer and Dance strategy, starting with the first phase – the hammer – which aims to control the drastic spread of the infection by confinement or the imposed enhanced community quarantine in the Philippine context.

“The hammer is the very heavy set of measures to stop the economy so that the number of cases that are growing exponentially starts to slow down. Hopefully, it goes completely down. With that, reduces the deaths and, more importantly, it gives the country time to figure out the second piece, which is the dance,” he said.

hammer_and_dance_graph
source: Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance

At present, the country is at the second phase of the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP II) underscored as the dance phase against the disease. This means aggressive testing, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine, while gradually reopening more economic activities.

“In the dance, we replace all these heavy measures—lockdowns and closure of schools and colleges and businesses—and replace them with a set of intelligent measures that can achieve the same goals. But without the same cost,” he said.

Pueyo said that densely populated areas such as highly urbanized cities must ensure these thrusts are given priority.

“If cities like Manila want to stop the virus, the set of measures are the following: testing, contact tracing, isolation, quarantines. Meaning that you need to find everybody who has the virus, find all the contacts and you need to isolate them either at home if they’re not infected, or somewhere else if they are,” he said.

The country’s anti-COVID body has recently established a Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE), which assists and supports local government units in containing COVID-19.

He also mentioned reinforcing and reminding the public to mask up, observe recommended physical distancing, and proper hygiene, which is outlined as the minimum health and safety standards.

Pueyo also warned countries that have high investments in tourism such as the Philippines to reassess the entry of tourists by considering the outbreak situation of their country of origin.

hammer_and_dance_COVID-19
source: Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance

“You need the economy and work to stand the virus but you need to be very cautious about who you let in,” he said.

“You want to let people from the countries that have the lowest prevalence. And after that, you want to be very careful on the process to let them in,” he added as he suggested requiring the RT-PCR test result for arriving tourists.

Though the strategy is inclusive, Pueyo reminded that implementation of this may come out differently for every country based on its capacity and resources.

“So you have a set of tools that you can use and you need all of these strategies to work well together and you need to be doing a good job at all of them,” he said.

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