DOH working closely with BFP, other agencies to monitor hospitals after PGH fire

Robie de Guzman   •   May 17, 2021   •   589

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it is closely coordinating with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and other concerned government agencies to prevent further fire incidents in hospitals amid the dry season and the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have reached out to the BFP, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and local government units (LGU) to place hospitals under close monitoring.

“Tayo po ay nakipag-coordinate sa iba’t ibang ahensya concerned katulad po ng DILG and local governments and also to coordinated with the Bureau of Fire Protection para magkaroon po ng monitoring across al[l our hospitals because we know that fire incidents are highest during the summer season,” she said.

Vergeire issued the statement after a fire hit part of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on Sunday.

The fire has directly affected a portion of one floor of PGH.

Vergeire said at least 12 patients were referred for transfer to other DOH hospitals. As of Monday, eight patients had already been transferred while the remaining four were being processed.

The DOH has also distributed K95 and N95 masks to the PGH since all of its personnel were required to wear this for 48 hours as smoke from the fire could still linger in the area.

“We were able to provide K95 and N95 masks to the PGH para kanilang magamit sa kanilang personnel because they were required to wear N95 masks for 48 hours kahit wala po sila doon as COVID areas because of the lingering o naka-suspend pa siyempre yung mga smoke diyan galing sa pagkakasunog,” she said.

“Ngayon po ating pinagtitibay (monitoring) para ma-prevent na po natin yung mga further incidents like this in the future,” Vergeire said.

DOLE partners with PGH to manage OFW hospital

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2022

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it has tapped the Philippine General Hospital to help manage the clinical services of the country’s first hospital for overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between DOLE and the PGH last Friday at the nearly completed OFW Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga,

Bello expressed optimism over the partnership, saying “the expertise of the government’s top medical institution will add quality to the service and prestige to the name of the facility meant to provide the health requirements of OFWs.”

“In serving the health needs of our modern-day heroes, we need the champion in saving lives. Thank you PGH for helping us,” Bello added.

Under the MOU, PGH will be helping the OFW Hospital in the training of clinical and administrative personnel, planning and acquisition of hospital equipment, and formulation of clinical and fiscal process flow.

It will also guide the hospital in the creation of electronic medical records and hospital information systems, and planning of infrastructure layout in relation to clinical services.

Aside from PGH, DOLE said the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Bloomberry Cultural Foundation Incorporated (BCFI), and the Pampanga Provincial Government also helped in constructing the 100-bed hospital building.

The construction of the OFW hospital is scheduled to be finished in March this year, it added.

Pagpapababa sa presyo ng RT-PCR test pinag-aaralan ng DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Pinag-aaralan na ng Department of Health (DOH) kung maaaring mapababa ang presyo ng RT-PCR o swab test sa gitna ng lumulobong kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa.

Ang hakbang ay kasunod na rin ng reklamo sa mataas na presyo ng test at dami ng mga nagpapasuri.

Ayon kay DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, inaalam na nila ang paraan kung paano mapapamura ang presyo ng swab test upang hindi gaanong mabigatan ang bulsa ng mga Pilipino.

Noong Setyembre 2021, sinabi ng DOH na dapat ay naglalaro lang sa P2,000 hanggang P3,000 ang presyo ng RT-PCR test sa mga pampubliko at pribadong laboratoryo.

Mula ito sa dating presyo na P3,000 hanggang P5,000.

DOH updates isolation, quarantine times for COVID-19 cases, close contacts

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has disclosed that the protocols for the isolation and quarantine durations for confirmed cases of COVID-19 and close contacts have been updated amid the rapidly rising number of infections in the country.

During a Zoom presentation published on Wednesday, DOH Spokesperson, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the isolation period for fully vaccinated persons with mild COVID-19 will now be shortened from 10 days to seven days from onset of symptoms.

For fully vaccinated asymptomatic cases, the isolation period will be seven days from their positive RT-PCR test result.

“Ten days isolation is retained for those that are partially or unvaccinated, and those with moderate symptoms regardless of vaccination status,” Vergeire said.

“Meanwhile, the isolation period has been retained to 21 days for those with severe and critical disease, and those immunocompromised as outlined by the living CTG panel,” she added.

Vergeire said that for fully vaccinated health workers with boosters, their isolation duration can be shortened to five days by hospital infection prevention and control committee and/or provincial health offices upon careful assessment of benefits and risk.

“They shall also be expanded to other sectors with strict industry standards on IPC subject with IATF approval,” she added.

The quarantine period for fully vaccinated asymptomatic close contacts, Vergeire said, will be shortened to five days from the previous seven days.

“For the quarantine of asymptomatic close contacts for the general public, policies are to be from seven days, we shortened it to five days for those who are fully vaccinated, and we retained 14 days for partially or unvaccinated individuals,” Vergeire said.

“All individuals should also be reminded to continue monitoring their symptoms, wear their mask, and implement minimum public health standards for 14 days,” she added.

The quarantine period for fully vaccinated health workers will be cut short to five days while those with boosters may no longer undergo quarantine period

A note on the slide showing the update quarantine period stated that this is still subject to IATF approval/DOH guidelines.

The DOH said isolation is for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 while quarantine is for those who have been exposed and can possibly develop infection.

Vergeire also said that the testing of asymptomatic close contacts would not be required unless they developed symptoms.

“For healthcare workers that are considered asymptomatic close contacts, for the sake of uniformity, they will follow the five days quarantine similar to the general public, provided, they are fully vaccinated,” she said.

The DOH would also retain that the hospital prevention and control committees could further shorten the healthcare workers’ quarantine with boosters depending on the situations, risks, and benefits, she added.

During the presentation, Vergeire said the update in the DOH guidelines was “deemed necessary” because “the differences in guidelines for quarantine and isolation of travelers, the general public, and specific sectors like healthcare workers had been causing confusion on the ground.”

She also said that amid the continuous rise in the number of cases, most of these remain asymptomatic and mild, which showed the effectiveness of the vaccines against severe COVID-19.

Patients who contracted the Omicron variant also showed milder symptoms that those that caught the Delta variant.

“The prolonged quarantine and isolation duration has been causing strain to our healthcare system and our economy,” Vergeire said.

“Our experts believed that specifically in the Omicron variant the benefits of shortening the quarantine outweighs the risk,” she added.

Vergeire also noted that other countries were also updating their protocols on quarantine and isolation periods.

“While the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is the most aggressive example by bringing down their isolation and quarantine periods to five days, we also see other countries moving down from 14 days to 10 days,” she said.

“The updated policy of the Philippines attempts to find acceptable standards give our current context and allow more flexibility to groups and sectors that can strictly implement infection, prevention, and control procedures,” she added.

Vergeire said the updated policy will be issued in the next few days after it has been presented to and approved by the IATF.

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