Secretary Carlito Galvez, Chief Implementer of the National Task Force on the coronavirus, pleaded with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night to help modernize the country's healthcare system and specialty hospitals.
"Kailangan na po nating i-modernize ang ating healthcare system. Matagal na pong napabayaan (It's been left to deteriorate)... High time na i-modernize na po natin," Galvez told the President in their meeting with other Cabinet officials.
The former general even mentioned a joke about the Lung Center of the Philippines, which he said was just operating "on one lung" with its lack of equipment to combat the coronavirus.
This developed as Duterte appealed to private hospitals to increase their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients as the number of cases continue to increase.
"I appeal to private hospitals to increase their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients," the President said on Monday night.
"The numbers are increasing and infections rate vary. In some areas, there is fast recovery rate, while others are lagging behind."
"I am appealing this for the country and for the people. Your help will go a long way. Everybody will remember someday that there is a great epidemic that passed by our lives and we were able to deal with it with a lot of mutual help," Duterte added.
Duterte hits upfront fees for vaccine
Duterte also criticized Western pharmaceutical firms that have been asking for a "reservation fee" to ensure the Philippines gets a supply of their vaccine once it is commercially available.
"Other countries, they want cash advance. It's all profit, profit, profit for them...That's why I said we will give preference to Russia and China provided their vaccine is as good as any other vaccine in the market," the President said.
"Now they are asking for a reservation fee. But they are not even at the advanced stage of their clinical trials. There is no vaccine yet, there is nothing with finality and you want us to deposit? You must be crazy," Duterte added.
The chief executive recalled how Russia and China were the first to extend help to the Philippines when the government was scrambling for measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
State of calamity likely to be extended
The President is likely to extend the declaration of a state of calamity over the entire country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacanang said Monday.
In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President will likely extend Proclamation 929, which expires this week, until a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 is available.
President Duterte declared a state of calamity on March 17 and placed the country under quarantine for six months due the sharp increase in coronavirus cases in the country.
This developed as the Philippines recorded 4,699 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total to 265,888 infections since the pandemic started, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
This was the seventh straight day in which more than 3,000 new cases were reported.
Newly-reported deaths hit a record high with 259 deaths, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 4,630.
The DOH also reported 249 new recoveries, bringing to 207,504 the number of people who have recovered from the disease.
There are 53,754 are active cases with patients being treated put under quarantine. Some 88.4 percent of the cases are mild, 8.2 percent are asymptomatic, 1.3 percent are severe, and 2.1 percent are critical.
'Hire data analyst czar'
The President should consider appointing a data analyst czar, the pandemic task force’s former adviser said Monday, after scores of coronavirus recoveries that the Health department reported later turned out to be deaths.
Errors in data reporting will “further erode the credibility of the Department of Health in terms of reporting, considering the other agencies have caught up trying to implement their work,” Dr. Tony Leachon told ANC.
“We cannot decide on certain implementation based on old data, particularly this one, recoveries to deaths. We have no tolerance for errors and we cannot function in an epidemic by tolerating mediocrity,” he said.
“Perhaps we need to assign a data analytics czar or a data czar because this is the heart and soul of the efforts of the government. Garbage in, garbage out… We need to step up,” he added.
PNPA locks down after outbreak
The Philippine National Police Academy in Silang, Cavite was placed on lockdown after more than 200 cadets tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities said Monday.
In a statement, PNPA director Major Gen. Gilberto Cruz said 232 cadets and 11 personnel were confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 and are now in isolation.
"Our health frontliners are now strictly monitoring these cadets and personnel on these recovery areas. As of writing, there is no recorded increase of COVID-19 cases," Cruz said.
The PNPA conducted 1,406 confirmatory tests and handed out face masks, face shields and sanitizers to each cadet, he said.
Ombudsman says DOH report coming
Ombudsman Samuel Martires vowed Monday to come up with an initial report on his agency’s probe into the Department of Health’s COVID-19 response in two to three weeks.
The Office of the Ombudsman is looking into the procurement of 100,000 COVID-19 test kits, the delayed purchase of personal protective equipment, lapses and irregularities that caused the death of medical workers, inaction in the release of benefits and financial assistance to fallen and infected medical frontliners, and confusing and delayed reporting of COVID-19-related deaths and confirmed cases.
Martires said the DOH has asked for an extension to comply with the Ombudsman’s summonses.
DOH to revise antigen testing rules
The Department of Health (DOH) plans to revise its guidelines on the antigen test for detecting COVID-19 after the World Health Organization (WHO) discouraged its use for travelers, a health official said on Monday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the WHO has released new recommendations saying it is not advisable to use the antigen test for border screenings.
The government last week allowed the use of the antigen test as a pre-boarding requirement for asymptomatic domestic tourists before departure and travel to tourist destinations or as a requirement upon entry at the place of destination.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at the time that the antigen test may also be used on domestic tourists who become symptomatic at their destination if that place does not have RT-PCR testing.
Manila hospital: fewer patients, more severe cases
The San Lazaro Hospital in Manila has received more severe and critical COVID-19 cases despite a drop in the number of patients, the chief of the hospital’s adult infectious diseases said on Monday.
Dr. Rontgene Solante said the national referral hospital for infectious diseases experienced a 5 percent to 10 percent decrease in COVID-19 patients within the past four weeks.
But what is increasing is its number of severe and critical patients, he told an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
The patients are usually those who stay home but were infected by their relatives who go outside to work or buy necessities, Solante said.
1,140 more health workers get COVID-19
The Department of Health (DOH) reported Sunday that 1,140 more health workers contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) over the past week. This raised the total to 8,494 as of Sept. 12.
In its daily COVID-19 report, the DOH said total recoveries among health workers climbed to 7,710 after 1,094 more recovered from the respiratory disease.
The death toll rose to 56 with 16 new fatalities.
The other 728 medical workers are active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine.
The five medical professions with the highest number of COVID-19 cases are nurses with 2,935 infections, doctors with 1,613, nursing assistants with 656, medical technologists with 383, and midwives with 192 cases.
More than 500 other non-medical personnel such as utility workers, security guards, and administrative staff were also included in the tally.
Support for locally made masks urged
SENATOR Christopher Go on Monday said the government should provide the necessary support to local industries producing masks, and that it should be able to provide masks to the poor and vulnerable sectors that cannot afford to buy their own.
He also called on the government to establish guidelines for the seamless production and distribution of masks following the initial implementation of a program to give away free, locally-made masks to the poorest of the poor and most vulnerable households. -