More workers at San Lazaro catch virus

Three San Lazaro Hospital health care workers assigned in wards handling COVID-19 patients have tested positive for the virus, the hospital’s chief adult infectious diseases Dr. Rontgene Solante.

JAMPACKED JAILHOUSE. Inmates sleep on the floor of a crowded courtyard of the Quezon City jail. UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet urges countries to protect people held in overcrowded prisons and other enclosed facilities by releasing vulnerable detainees, saying that COVID-19 ‘risks rampaging through such institutions.’ AFP
Philippine Medical Association president Oscar Tinio said 12 doctors have already died fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

This brought the total casualties to the disease to 71, as Department of Health spokesperson Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire confirmed 343 new cases on Sunday, which brought to 1,418 the total number of confirmed positive cases for COVID-19 as of March 29, with 42 total recoveries.

“We still have some other patients confined and fighting the illness at this time. Hopefully, we don’t add more to the list of deaths among our practitioners, our physicians,” said Tinio.

“We’re still grieving but, at this point, we cannot do anything about what has lapsed already, what has been done already,” he added.

Solante said all health care workers in the San Lazaro wards were tested after one or two showed symptoms of the new coronavirus.

“When you are dealing with this infection, when you regularly talk with health workers, there’s always this fear and uncertainty they may be having the infection... the fear they cannot go back to their homes and see their families,” said Solante.

He said he would recommend testing personnel every two weeks.

Solante said San Lazaro has already reached its full capacity in accepting COVID-19 patients as 27 or 28 out of 36 beds are currently occupied.

“Just yesterday, we had eight new admissions. Probably today, we’ll be in full capacity already. If the wards are already full, that’s the time that we cannot really accept patients,” he said.

He also said their personal protective equipment are only allocated only in these rooms.

“We also have to factor in our health workers. We cannot compromise safety of our health care workers while taking care of these patients,” said Solante.

Furthermore, Solante said that those who tested positive for the virus acquired the disease and manifested symptoms before Luzon went on lockdown two weeks ago.

“The incubation period by which a particular individual will manifest is within 14 (days). Probably, we can add another week and look at the trend,” he said.

After that week, he said they will evaluate and see if the trend of the infection is going down.

“But up to now, we have observed it is still going up,” Solante said.

Malacañang on Sunday said that the spike in number of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID- 19 was a result of of more tests comducted by the Department of Health as supplies of testing kits comtinues to arrive.

“As we have previously stated, the reason for a few reported cases of confirmed cases two weeks ago was because there was a lack of testing kits to ascertain the number of those afflicted with the disease,” Panelo said.

He said that if the ECQ had not been imposed the number of the COVID-19 cases could have been staggering.

Command center eyed

A FORMER president of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) on Sunday suggested that a coronavirus disease 2019 command and control center be created for an organized response to the COVID-19 threat. Dr. Tony Leachon said the command center would organize the execution of delivery of services, and correct the fragmented approach taken by the Department of Health, local government units and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Concerned agencies could designate personnel to different tasks such as answering call centers and delivering relief goods and personal protective equipment at the command center.

Test pneumonia fatalities, DOH urged TWO lawmakers on Sunday urged the Department of Health (DoH) to subject all patients, including those who died of pneumonia to a COVID-19 test.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo made the appeal in the wake of reports that many poor patients are dying of severe pneumonia and are being buried without undergoing COVID-19 testing.

“If we do not test them, we will never know if they are positive for the fast-spreading coronavirus disease. It’s good if they do not have the virus. But what if they have it?” Defensor, a vice chairman of the House committee on health, asked.

Defensor, the chairman of the House committee on public accounts, said if a dead patient had the virus and is not checked, those who had contact with him or her were exposed to the disease without knowing it and they might be spreading it to others. 

Higher PhilHealth rates sought

DEPUTY Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte proposed that Philippine Health Insurance Corp. increase the amount of its rate package to between P300,00 and P400,000 for COVID-19 patients suffering from severe illness or in critical condition that require intubation and the use of ventilators.

He said the rate package should be raised to P150,000 to P200,000 for patients with mild cases, as such persons are required to be hospitalized for two weeks for their complete recovery from this disease.

Villafuerte made his proposal as five top hospitals in Metro Manila have stopped accepting new suspect cases ostensibly because their existing facilities could no longer accommodate additional patients for treatment.

These five hospitals are St. Luke’s Medical Center and De los Santos Medical Center, both in Quezon City; SLMC Global City in Taguig City; The Medical City in Pasig City; and Makati Medical Center in Makati City. 

370 crew members arrive from Italy

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Sunday said some 370 Filipino sailors from three cruise liners docked in Italy have been repatriated back to Manila as coronavirus disease threatens various ships around the world.

In a statement, the DFA said the batch of repatriates is composed of 248 Filipinos from MV Costa Luminosa from Milan, and a combined number of 122 Filipinos from MV Grandiosa and MV Opera docked in Rome.

The Filipino crew arrived via chartered flights organized by the Philippine government.

“All the 370 Filipinos underwent medical checkup and were found to be asymptomatic before they boarded the chartered airline that brought them to Manila,” the DFA said.

It said the repatriates will also undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a still unknown location that will be supervised by the Bureau of Quarantine. 

Seafarers airlifted to Manila

Some 2,000 Filipino seafarers were about to be airlifted to Manila on board a chartered plane from Orlando, Florida, after the Carnival Corp. ship owner of Costa Lines in cooperation with the Magsaysay Shipping arranged a charter flight for them.

Some of the crew members were ill and were taken to hospitals for treatment, observation and testing, a USA Today report said.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has started distributing personnel protective equipment (PPE), face masks, and boxes of bottled water to various hospitals in Metro Manila.

OCD administrator Ricardo Jalad, in a statement Saturday, said these items were procured by the agency following the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

He added the OCD each gave 5,000 surgical masks to the East Avenue Medical Center and Philippine Children’s Medical Center, both in Quezon City, while 500 N-95 masks were delivered to Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium in Caloocan City last March 26.

On March 27, the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, also in Quezon City, received 100 coverall suits, 500 surgical masks and 10 boxes bottled water from the agency.

The OCD also handed out 400 surgical masks and 100 coverall suits to Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo Station Hospital in Quezon City on the same date.

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Topics: COVID-19 , Philippine Medical Association , San Lazaro Hospital , Philippine College of Physicians , personnel protective equipment
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