DOH looking for 95,000 allied medical professionals to join contact tracing efforts

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020   •   225

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) needs to hit a benchmark of 126,000 Covid trackers to comply with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) of one tracker per 800 Filipinos.

So far, the DOH has 38,000 contact tracers across the country and is now calling for the cooperation of local government units in hiring more for their respective localities.

“Ito pong 95,000 na sinasabi, kagaya ng sabi ninyo, amin pong hihingin ang tulong ng ating mga local government units para makahanap po tayo nitong ating mga contact tracers na ito (We will ask the help of local government units to scout for the additional 95,000 contact tracers),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Contact tracers will receive salary and compensation set by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Vergeire said the DOH has already submitted a proposal to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with regard to the applicant requirements and qualifications.

Specifically, applicants must be allied medical professionals or graduates and undergraduates of allied medical courses. 

“Competencies include data gathering, being able to interview cases and close contacts to gather data on travel history and conduct health assessment, and advocating public health because they need to provide health education messages as well,” Vergeire said of the job description. 

The DOH is also eyeing augmentation from barangay health workers and social workers to help in the government’s response against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The WHO pointed out earlier the need to fast track contact tracing efforts in the Philippines to be able to immediately isolate those with direct contact to confirmed COVID-19 cases to curb the spread of the virus. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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DOH warns against buying and selling of blood plasma

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) warned the public against buying and selling of blood plasma taken from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) survivors.

DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is a high health risk in buying blood plasma from unverified sellers.

May mga sakit na maaaring maisalin galing diyan sa mga dugo na binebenta natin (Blood that are sold could contain diseases that can be transmitted). Ito po ang mga (these are) transmissible infections through the blood. This is very risky kasi magkakasakit ang pagbibigyan natin ng mga dugong ito (because it could sicken the recipient), ” she said.

The DOH has received reports of recovered COVID-19 patients selling blood plasma at P80,000 per bag in Cebu City. Vergeire said there is no guarantee the blood plasma underwent proper evaluation to ensure that it is safe for blood transfusion.

Vergeire said blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors contain antibodies that can help fight the infection as well as boost the immune system of COVID-19 patients. However, COVID-19 survivors need to undergo proper screening in qualified hospitals and blood centers that are conducting convalescent plasma therapy.

Kaya nga ayaw natin na pinagbebenta o ayaw nating pinababayaran ang dugo. Gusto natin na inii-screen muna natin ang mga pasyente bago sila makapagbigay ng dugo para maiwasan ang mga ganitong risks, (That is why we do not want these blood plasma to be sold. We want to screen the patients first before donation to avoid risks),” she said.

The Health Department also discourages COVID-19 survivors from selling their blood plasma and donate them instead. A website called, plasmangpagasa.com, has been launched for COVID-19 survivors to register and donate their blood.

Meanwhile, DOH Region 7 has begun their investigation on the sale of blood plasma in their area. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH fails to report Sunday’s update on COVID-19 cases; cites ‘significant volume of data’

Maris Federez   •   July 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health failed to announce the department’s latest tally of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Sunday (July 12).

In a statement released late Sunday night, the health department said it will give the update on Monday morning instead, as it cites “significant volume of data” that they still need to process.

The statement said, “due to the significant volume of data gathered today as part of DOH’s efforts to harmonize data with the cities of NCR and the different regions, the DOH Data Team is still currently in the process of validating today’s numbers.”

“We also note that because of the volume of data being validated, based on initial findings we are seeing an increase in today’s number of reported cases, recoveries, and deaths,” it added.

The DOH said a “comprehensive report” on COVID-19 data for July 12 will be released at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, July 13.

Even with the delay in the update, the department said that it wants to be certain that the information they release is accurate.

“We recognize the importance of providing real-time information. However, in providing this information, we also make sure that said information is accurate,” the statement said.

As of July 11, the country has recorded 54,222 confirmed cases with 14,037 recoveries and 1,372 deaths.  — /mbmf

DOH warns public on possible airborne transmission of COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 10, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public on the possible airborne transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Despite the lack of further studies, the Health Department said they are not dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 might spread in the air. They reminded the public to always adhere to the health and safety protocols.

Patuloy po tayong natututo tungkol sa SARS-CoV-2 at COVID-19. Kabilang na nga po dito ang mode of transmission o paraan ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 (We are continuously learning about SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19. This includes the mode of transmission of COVID-19). It’s an evolving science and new evidence continues to roll out,” according to DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

More than 200 scientists urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to acknowledge the possibility of airborne transmission. According to a study, “viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

The WHO previously dismissed the possibility of airborne transmission but said they will release a scientific brief summary regarding the collected data on the modes of transmission of COVID-19

“This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is important that what we know is it fits into the guidance that we have, which is why a comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” according to WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19 Pandemic Maria Van Kerkhove.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they will also review and verify the evidence and studies about COVID-19 in order to provide appropriate information and advisories to the public.AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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