Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday she has undergone self-quarantine after coming in “very close contact” with a person—not a member of her staff–who tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
She told an interview on radio dzXL that she came into contact with a patient Thursday and followed protocol by going into isolation.
She said this wasn’t the first time she was exposed to COVID-19.
“On Friday morning, we learned that someone my chief of staff and I had very close contact with, tested positive for COVID. Following protocol, we decided to do self-quarantining beginning Friday until we get a swab test,” she said.
New COVID-19 cases breach 2,000
The Philippines logged 14,944 new recoveries Sunday, bringing to 328,036 the number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
The DOH also reported 2,223 new cases of COVID-19, bringing total infections to 370,028 since the pandemic began..
The DOH also reported 43 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 6,977.
This left 35,015 active cases in the country. Of these, 82 percent are mild cases; 11.3 percent are asymptomatic; 2.4 percent are severe; and 4.2 percent are critical.
Hospital staff test positive
Four more personnel of a hospital in Manila have contracted COVID-19, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said on Sunday after it conducted free coronavirus tests for the hospital's frontliners.
Seven doctors of Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, the biggest maternity hospital in the country, earlier tested positive for the coronavirus, according to its medical center chief Dr. Esmeraldo Ilem and Red Cross chairman Senator Richard Gordon.
“We discovered four more with coronavirus disease. And we can't resist testing because if we don't, more will be put in danger,” said Gordon, in an interview on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
Most of the personnel are asymptomatic and under isolation, Ilem said.
The hospital is disinfecting its facilities but will accommodate imminent child deliveries, Ilem said. Some 600 mothers are admitted at the hospital, he added.
DOH backs having a vaccine czar
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega on Sunday expressed support on appointing a “vaccine czar” who will focus on the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine products in the country.
On Saturday, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto suggested that Malacañang name a "vaccine czar" who can ensure 110 million Filipinos would have access to the COVID-19 vaccine once available.
Recto pointed out that the vaccine czar can solve the "importation to injection" challenges since rich countries who are financing the development of COVID-19 vaccines will get the supplies first.
On Tuesday, Malacañang said it sees a logistical challenge for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses to Filipinos, since the drugs need to be stored at sub-zero temperatures.
Break for health workers eyed
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said on Sunday that there is a big chance for health care workers in areas with low critical care utilization rate of medical facilities to be granted a break amid the pandemic.
Vega, in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, said hospitals and local governments should decide based on their assessment of the COVID-19 situation in their areas.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque had suggested that hospitals should give health workers a break if the utilization rate for facilities dedicated to COVID-19 patients is at a manageable level.
Roque made the suggestion to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. during a briefing.
Virus research center in the works
The Philippines is devoting a whole new research center to the study of emerging viruses, including those found in wildlife animals, that could possibly infect people and threaten public health in the future, according to Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, a member of the House appropriations committee.
He said the new Virology Science and Technology Institute (VSTI) is getting an initial funding of P283 million in the 2021 national budget.
“Once fully operational, the VSTI will enable Filipino scientists to identify evolving viruses in different species of animals,” he noted.
“They will then be in a position to ascertain those viruses that could pose the greatest risk of infecting people and spreading between people,” he said.
The VSTI will establish its facilities at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Tarlac, and operate under the supervision of the Department of Science and Technology, he said.