DOH calls for volunteers for contact tracing; issues guidelines on PPE requests for hospitals

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2020 06:17 PM | Updated as of Mar 24 2020 12:27 AM

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday urged people to volunteer for their contact tracing efforts as confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to increase in the Philippines.

“Nananawagan din tayo sa volunteers na pwede tumulong sa contact tracing,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during a televised DOH briefing.

(We are calling for volunteers to help in our contact tracing.)

Vergeire said there are not enough DOH personnel to do contact tracing because of the quick increase in numbers of COVID-19 patients. As of Monday, there are 462 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. Contact tracing involves reaching out to everyone who was in close contact with those people to see if they were also infected with the disease.

She said volunteers will receive a daily allowance since this is faster to arrange than actual hiring.

An initial 1,300 people have already volunteered.

The DOH earlier issued a call for health workers to volunteer for the government’s COVID-19 referral hospitals. These are the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City, and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City.

However, a big challenge for the hospitals now is the sourcing of personal protective equipment.

The Lung Center of the Philippines on Monday said they are about to run out of PPE suits, which are crucial in keeping their health workers safe.

Vergeire earlier in the day said that there is a global shortage in PPEs that is why the government cannot buy additional supplies even if they have the budget.

Despite this, she later told hospitals to send their PPE requests to DOH by sending an e-mail to covid19logistics@gmail.com.

She assured the health facilities that once requests are processed, they may retrieve the PPEs at the DOH compound. Others can send their requests to DOH regional offices.

“We also received news that a lot of health workers at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital are quarantined. We are looking into how this happened,” she said.