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DOH needs P67.6 billion more to fight pandemic as cases near 13,000

The Department of Health (DOH) is asking Congress for a P67.62 billion supplemental budget to deal with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an official said Tuesday.

Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo told legislators during a virtual meeting of the House Committee on Metro Manila development that the DBM approved only P45.72 billion of the total P67.62 billion budget proposal.

Bayugo said some P2.28 billion has already been realigned from the DOH's budget, which can be used to cover the requirements for its COVID-19 response.

READ: Mass testing: Private initiatives, not government

These realigned funds, he said, will be used for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program, for the purchase of test kits and personal protective equipment, and for the funding of measures to prevent and control other infectious diseases.

Bayugo also noted that a budget of P165 million is being used for health manpower and that there are so far 6,225 approved slots for health care workers that the DOH can hire.

224 new COVID-19 cases reported

The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday reported 224 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the nationwide total to 12,942.

READ: ‘Lockdown if cases surge’

Six new deaths were reported, bringing total fatalities to 837, while 114 patients recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 2,843.

Cebu mayor says most cases asymptomatic

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella on Tuesday said 95 percent of the city’s positive COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, as he assured the public that they have been isolated.

“As of yesterday, [we have recorded] 1,749 positive cases, but 95 percent are asymptomatic,” Labella said during a virtual press briefing.

Labella said the local government has placed the patients in barangay isolation centers.

“They are quite the risky ones. They don't have the symptoms, no fever, no cough, and they go around so we isolate them,” he said in Filipino.

The mayor attributed the increase in positive cases of COVID-19 to the strategic mass testing currently being conducted together with the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue. The city has so far tested more than 10,000 individuals, he said.

Medical graduates deputized

The DOH has issued a memorandum that allows medical graduates to engage in the limited practice of medicine as deputized physicians, without the need of any certificate of registration from the Professional Regulation Commission.

For those to be assigned in primary health care facilities, the medical graduates are expected to treat and manage cases to help reduce the burden in hospitals already overwhelmed by COVID-19. 

They are also expected to assist in the early detection of COVID-19 cases, facilitate appropriate referrals by following the standard algorithms provided by the DOH, and treat cases that can adequately be managed at the health facilities.

Those who will be assigned in affiliated public or private hospitals will temporarily augment the health workforce of the hospital by covering areas, departments, or units where regular hospital staff have been pulled out and transferred from due to the influx of COVID-19 cases.

The deputized physicians, however, will not be assigned in critical care areas, COVID-19 triage or frontline areas, emergency room or in other areas directly managing COVID-19 cases.

Senate begins COVID-19 inquiry

The Senate opened a hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on various sectors of society Tuesday.

Officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, including Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., and deputy implementer Vince Dizon, were at the hearing.

Officials from the departments of Finance and Budget and Management and the National Economic and Development Authority were also invited as resource speakers.

OWWA pressed on workers in isolation

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has been told to provide an inventory of repatriated overseas Filipino workers still awaiting results of their COVID-19 tests at government-accredited facilities, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday.

“We will look into this now,” Roque said of reports that the workers have been kept in quarantine beyond the mandatory 14 days. “We will go out of our way and actually ask OWWA for an inventory,” Roque said.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac earlier urged the workers to be patient as the results were being released in batches. He also said repatriated workers may not leave the isolation facilities until the results arrive.

2 nabbed for selling test kits

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested two persons recently for illegally selling COVID-19 test kits worth P2.4 million.

The NBI identified the two suspects as Shanon Alegre and Esseline Ong, who were arrested on May 14. Criminal charges are being readied against the two before the Paranaque Prosecutor’s Office.

The case stemmed from information received that the two suspects were selling the items online without the proper license and permits, as stated by the Food and Drugs Administration.

On May 13, the NBI contacted the suspects online and agreed for the delivery of the kits and on cash on delivery (COD) basis within Metro Manila.

An agent poseur buyer ordered 200 boxes at P12,000 per box, totaling P2.4 million. 

READ: Local Roundup: Workers shuttle in ‘new normal’

READ: Workers’ return triggers warning

Topics: Department of Health , supplemental budget , COVID-19 , Gerardo Bayugo
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