Local Roundup: Health workers among 'patients'

Some health care workers from the Philippine General Hospital have been placed under observation for possible COVID-19 infection, its spokesman said Monday.

Jonas del Rosario told CNN Philippines that some of the hospital’s staff members were labeled as “patients under investigation” after showing symptoms of infection of the disease.

“Some of our employees or health care officers are under investigation because they are symptomatic, or they had travel history. So far, our PUIs have not tested positive.,” Del Rosario told New Day.

Face masks

The Philippine General Hospital can take hold of face masks and personal protective equipment that are reportedly kept in customs warehouses, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said Monday.

Locsin made the suggestion as he vowed to bring up the matter of the PPEs COVID-19 infection during a meeting in Malacañang on Monday.

“PGH and other front-line medical personnel are looking for PPEs. They are in Customs’’ warehouse, tons of them. Go get them there. PGH is an arm of government and entitled to take them,” Locsin said, in his Twitter account. 

Keep distance

Only people who tested negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to go near President Rodrigo Duterte during private functions, according to the Presidential Security Group.

In a statement, the PSG said the people who tested negative for the virus would be allowed to be near the President, while those not tested would maintain at least a six-foot distance from him.

The PSG also said the “no-touch” policy on President Duterte would be strictly enforced, and a 10-meter distance from the audience would be maintained in any large functions.

Special Committee

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday announced that the House of Representatives had created a special committee, the Defeat Covid-19 Coordinating Committee, that is tasked to help the government assess the situation relating to the China virus.

He said the House would continue to conduct hearings amid the threat of COVID-19, but WOULD observe social distancing and limiting the number of attendees.

He said the hearing will begin on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as the main resource person. 

Work stoppage

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a work stoppage in all courts and court offices in the country, except for a skeleton staff who will act on urgent matters brought before them due to the continued rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.

In Administrative Circular 31-2020, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, said the reduced court operations will take effect starting on Monday, March 16, until April 15, 2020.

“The Constitution and our laws are not suspended, and our courts are not shutting down in times of emergencies,” he said. 

“But with the situation still rapidly evolving, and an atmosphere of uncertainty pervading, we must all do everything we can.”


Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development to reconsider its decision to temporarily stop the release of the social pension for indigent senior citizens, unconditional cash transfer and conditional cash transfer under Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

“We call to withdraw its decision [to pull out the assistance] and pursue the continuity of the programs,” Robredo said. 

“Without these, many of them [beneficiaries]  would be forced to go out of their house to work since without work, they would not be able to eat.”

Virtual press briefings

Malacañang said Monday it will hold virtual press briefings starting Tuesday instead of the regular face-to-face news conferences.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the move will minimize the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. 

Regular Palace briefings are always televised in the state-run news channel and live-streamed on Facebook.

Flights canceled 

Philippine Airlines said Monday it is canceling all domestic flights to and from Cebu on March 17 and 18.

PAL spokesman Cielo Villaluna said the move was in compliance with the directive of the Provincial Government of Cebu restricting the entry of passengers arriving in the region to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Those affected on March 17 include flights to and from General Santos, Davao, Iloilo, Camiguin, Caticlan, Ozamiz, Busuanga, Kalibo, Tacloban, Siargao, and Butuan.

On March 18, the affected flights are to and from Dipolog, General Santos, Iloilo, and Davao. With Rey E. Requejo, Vito Barcelo, Maricel V. Cruz, Rio N. Araja and Joel E. Zurbano

Topics: health care workers , Philippine General Hospital , COVID-19 infection
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