MANILA - Around 6 to 8 people were exposed to Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III during his visit to Makati Medical Center (MMC), and now the hospital has to do contact tracing as a protocol, the medical director said.
"Mga 'yun po ang bilang namin (That's our count)," Dr. Saturnino Javier, the medical director of MMC, told radio DZMM Wednesday.
"We also go beyond those 6 to 8 people because yung mga nakausap non, we will also have to track," he added.
Pimentel should have been under quarantine, following exposure to a COVID-19 positive patient during a March 5 Senate hearing. He claimed to have isolated himself since March 11, and has since experienced symptoms. He was however at the MMC on Tuesday night to accompany his wife Kathryn who was supposed to give birth.
Pimentel earlier said he took the test on March 20 and received the news he was COVID-19 positive when he was at the hospital.
"Yes [I was with her] as she was asked to give birth this morning. I received the call from RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) when I was already in the hospital last night, hence I left immediately," he said.
Javier however emphasized that the time of Pimentel getting the result was "immaterial" since the senator was already experiencing COVID-19 symptoms prior to the hospital visit. Based on the Department of Health's protocol, a PUI must complete a 14-day quarantine period.
"If your colleagues are already declaring they're positive and iba po nagka-quarantine na, ikaw eh umiikot pa ng hospital (and others are in quarantine, you who's roaming inside the hospital), it's not a good thing to do," Javier said.
In a related statement, Javier also called Pimentel's actions as reckless.
"By being in MMC, Senator Pimentel violated his home quarantine protocol, entered the premises of the MMC-DR, thus unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection. As a result, a number of our nurses and doctors may need to be quarantined which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital," said Javier.
Pimentel's wife is now a person under monitoring (PUM), since she's not showing symptoms for the virus, and is isolated at the hospital.
Pimentel is the second senator to contract COVID-19. Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier confirmed he tested positive for coronavirus.
MMC on Tuesday already said it was already unable to take in more patients due to overcapacity.
The premier Makati hospital however noted that its emergency department “will try” to give preliminary evaluation and treatment to patients but “cannot guarantee a room” for admission.
At present, there close to 70 patients admitted in the Makati Medical Center including those who are COVID-19 positive, it said. The patients, 15 percent of whom are in the intensive care unit, include some of the hospital’s health frontliners.
--With a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News