- No aircon in clinics
- Telemed consultancy
- Only 5 patients daily
Patients should consult doctors first through telemedicine and physicians should limit their patients to five a day, observe physical distancing, wear personal protective equipment and change gowns after every other patient, the Philippine Medical Association said Monday.
In an interview with the ANC news channel, Dr. Benito Atienza, PMA vice president, also said clinics must no air-conditioning or electric fans and windows and doors must be opened. The clinic's staff should also be limited to one to two people, he added.
Patients should also wear face masks, but should first consult a doctor online on https://docph.org, Atienza said.
"This is aimed to decrease the patients going to the hospital’s emergency room," he said, noting that patients could request for medicine or prescriptions.
Atienza also called for the testing of doctors for COVID-19 as they are prepare to open their clinics.
The Department of Health reported 262 new cases as of May 4, bringing total COVID-19 cases to 9,485.
Metro Manila accounted for 122 of the new cases.
The DOH said 101 patients recovered Monday, bringing total recoveries to 1,315. Sixteen new deaths were reported, bringing total fatalities to 623.
On Monday, 14 Senate personnel tested using rapid test kits tested positive for antibodies and would need to be subjected to real-time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) tests to validate if they are COVID-19 positive.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III confirmed that out of the 500 subjected to the mandatory rapid testing, 12 tested positive. They were sent to hospitals for the swab testing for confirmatory testing. Two more positive cases were reported in the afternoon of the same day.
Sotto said two of those who yielded positive results are staff members of senators, as well as a waiter and a page, while the rest came from the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms.
At least three senators–Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Aquilino Pimentel III, and Juan Edgardo Angara, had tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Angara, who recovered, tested positive again for the virus weeks after he was declared COVID-free. He was supposed to donate his blood for the government’s plasma infusion to help cure severe and critical cases of the coronavirus diseases when it was discovered he was infected again.
But health officials said what was detected in the senator’s system could be dead viruses or remnants of COVID-19 that are no longer infectious.
Four other staff members working for senators Pia Cayetano, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Risa Hontiveros were also infected with COVID-19.
Although the threat of the coronavirus remains, the Senate opted to open the sessions.
Zubiri said they would conduct hearings and sessions online to ensure the safety of senators, most of whom are in the vulnerable age group.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said one of his staff members yielded a positive result from the rapid test.
Senator Panfilo Lacson brought several rapid test kits for senators and staff who would physically attend the session.
Zubiri said they expect Philippine Red Cross, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, to conduct confirmatory tests using RT-PCR for those who tested positive using the rapid test kits.
"We also requested Red Cross to test senators who want to be tested,” he said.
At the same time, Sotto, Lacson, and Revilla said the distribution of food and cash aid to families affected by the lockdown would not have been delayed had a national ID been in place. They called for a full-blown and immediate implementation of the National ID System.
The lockdown did not deter the House of Representatives from resuming sessions on Monday after its break for Lent but the session hall was almost empty and most of the legislators attended through electronic means.
Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez in his welcome remarks said that the session done through teleconferencing was in line with Speaker Alan Peter Cateyano's policy that the chamber should resume working to rush needed legislation needed in the fight against the spread of the virus.
Due to physical distancing, only 25 of some 300 congressmen were allowed to attend physically. The rest attended through electronic means.
A motion to adopt that in the Rules of the House of Representatives was introduced, seconded, approved and adopted during the start of Monday's session. Deputy speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu seconded Romualdez's motions.
The House is expected to pass the proposed P700 billion economic stimulus package to restart the economy following the damage wrought by the extended lockdown on Metro Manila and other provinces in Luzon.
The Philippine Economic Recovery Act (PERA), the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020 or the social amelioration program, a new normal bill, and other similar measures are all expected to breeze through the chamber, which worked with the executive department in the weeks before the resumption of sessions.
Also on Monday, the UST Varsitarian reported that UST Hospital has cut its “non-crucial” manpower amid heavy financial losses amounting to about P180 million since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quoting hospital medical director Dr. Marcellus Francis Ramirez, the Varsitarian said that state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. also owed the hospital more than P180 million in expenses for patients in 2019.
“[P]ainful decisions needed to be made. While the news around significantly highlights the health and medical impact of the pandemic, the huge economic and financial impact brought about by this crisis to all business establishments, most especially to health care institutions, is often overlooked,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez also said some patients were discharged on promissory notes.
The medical director said that retrenchment is a “recognized valid and legal management measure and it remains as such even during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Ramirez said employees affected by the retrenchment measures would receive a 150-percent separation pay based on the hospital’s CBA, which was 50 percent higher than what the Labor Code provides.
But the Ugnayang Nagkakaisang Manggagawa–University of Santo Tomas (UNM–UST) protested what it said was the “wrongful termination” being implemented by the hospital management, supposedly in the guise of business losses.
The group sad USTH hospital workers remained committed to their work even after their pleas for additional benefits during the pandemic “fell on deaf ears.”
An employee from the hospital affected by the retrenchment measures said he pleaded with the hospital administrators to keep his job, as looking for another job would not be possible amid the pandemic.