Philippines eyes single facility for confirmed COVID-19 cases

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2020 02:12 PM

Barangay volunteers wearing blue hospital gowns and masks check temperatures and provide hand alcohol rubs to motorists entering San Mateo, Rizal from Marikina through Nangka-San Mateo road on March 15, 2020. The National Capital Region has been placed under “community quarantine,” with travel bans to and from the metro to address the rising cases on COVID-19 infection. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- The government is eyeing isolating all confirmed cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in one facility to control the spread of the disease that has claimed at least 12 lives in the Philippines, Malacañang said Monday.

The proposal, which will be tackled during President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with his top officials later in the day, aims to heighten precautionary measures for health professionals responding to the outbreak, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

“Ang problema kasi natin, the way things are developing baka maubusan tayo ng ospital na paglalagayan (we could run out of hospitals). And not only that, we are exposing our health workers to the same infection,” he added.

Panelo however did not specify the facility that could host confirmed COVID-19 patients.

The country currently has 140 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and is under a state of public health emergency following "sustained community transmission” of the disease.

MORE SUPPLIES COMING IN

Panelo also allayed the concerns of health professionals over the dwindling supply of medical gear, saying more supplies are coming in.

State-owned Philippine General Hospital earlier asked for donations of face masks (both surgical and N95), 70 percent alcohol, face shields, and surgical gowns for its health workers as supplies of medical gear dwindled.

The Department of Health has previously warned the public that face masks are for health workers and those who are immuno-compromised. Able-bodied Filipinos are advised to simply observe proper hygiene such as by proper handwashing.

Panelo said 20,000 sets of face masks are coming into the country and noted that a private pharmaceutical firm, which he did not name, offered its factory as a venue for the manufacturing of the medical gear.

The World Health Organization has warned that stocks of protective gear were rapidly decreasing as countries rushed to protect their supply of masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.