Health workers said Monday they never called for a revolution when they urged the government to bring back stricter quarantine restrictions, contrary to a rant Sunday night by President Rodrigo Duterte, who said they should have written him a letter instead of making a public statement.
Dr. Antonio Dans, a spokesman for the Healthcare Professions Alliance Against COVID-19 said he was puzzled by the President's remark.
“We are not calling for a revolution,” Dans said in Filipino in an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. “Where did that come from?”
Duterte on Sunday heeded the suggestion of the medical workers and announced that Metro Manila and 4 neighboring provinces would return to a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second strictest level of lockdowns from Aug. 4 to 18.
But he also told the group to “do the soul-searching” and “not try to demean government” by criticizing it. (
The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) said health workers offered suggestions on the country's pandemic response to help the authorities, and not to “demean the government.”
Health workers earlier asked the government to place back Metro Manila under stricter lockdown measures to arrest a spike in COVID-19 cases—a suggestion that Duterte followed over the weekend.
“Our purpose really is to help, to get some breather, to really make sure that we are doing the right thing,” said PMA president Dr. Jose Santiago Jr.
“We have to learn from the past four months, what are the weaknesses we had so we can strengthen that in the coming days or in the coming weeks so we are more prepared,” Santiago said.
A shortage of health workers is among the problems that the government needs to address. While one nurse ideally should tend to only one patient in intensive care, nurses in some hospitals take care of 10 to 15 coronavirus patients, Santiago said.
For their part, the Healthcare Professionals Alliance against COVID-19 earlier said the government should also solve the following issues:
• Failure in finding coronavirus carriers due to inaccurate rapid antibody tests;
• Errors in quarantine protocols;
• Insufficient modes of public transport;
• Public disobedience of health guidelines;
• Breach of quarantine rules in workplaces; and
• Delays in the distribution of cash aid for displaced workers and the poorest families.
Dr. Ted Herbosa, UP executive vice president and UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team chairman, meanwhile, urged the government to recall its decision to allow clinics offering aesthetic services and cosmetic dentistry, gyms, and internet cafes to reopen in a limited capacity.
Herbosa also said strict enforcement guidelines for minimum health standards should be released to the public and pushed for a better implementation of the test-trace-isolate strategy.
He also urged health authorities to articulate a strategy of aggressive testing, tracing, and isolation.
In other developments:
* The Citizens Urgent Response to End Covid-19 (CURE Covid) on Monday said it supports the call of the medical frontliners for the government to overhaul its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged the President to replace Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
* A party-list lawmaker said the President and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) should fully address the demands of health care workers, point by point, and on a national scale. ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said the government needs to come up with a comprehensive plan for mass testing, contact tracing, isolation, and treatment and hire enough health care workers, including contact tracers, with adequate compensation and just benefits.
* Senator Imee Marcos said the Department of Health should stop killing health workers, pointing to a report highlighting the high infection rate among health care workers during the four months of community quarantines. She said that the DOH report that more than 90 percent of health care workers have recovered is nothing but cold comfort. “It does not cure their predicament as a group with such a high rate of infection, compared to other countries,” Marcos said.
* Militant lawmakers on Monday called on the Duterte administration to "decisively act now, abandon its militarist track and heed the begging but urgent calls of frontline health care workers to institute genuine medical and health measures to stem the still steadily rising cases of covid19 infection in the country." Led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, they said, "We are one with our frontliners in demanding a reprieve from the overwhelming cases of COVID-19, particularly in the National Capital Region.”
* Health workers from Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRRMMC) held a noontime “snake rally” protest on Monday to denounce the death of their fellow health worker, Judyn Bonn Suerte, an employee of the hospital who recently died of COVID-19 due to gross neglect and inefficiency of the hospital management, the DOH and Duterte administration. The Jose Reyes
Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-Alliance of Health Workers expressed worry about their worsening health and working conditions in their hospital, with the number of infections among them rising.