DOST distributes Filipino-made biomedical device for COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020   •   313

MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino-made device seen to help health workers in monitoring vital signs of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients is on its way to various health facilities in the country.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has initially delivered 106 units of biomedical device called ‘RxBox’ to the Philippine General Hospital and around 1,000 units will be delivered to other health facilities in the coming days.

The device is capable of measuring a patient’s temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, uterine contractions and electrocardiogram (ECG) reading.

“Iyan ay ikakabit sa mga pasyente ng COVID-19 at imo-monitor ang kanilang vital signs via computer na nurses’ station,” explained Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña.

The RxBox was developed by researchers from the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila and Diliman campuses with the support of the DOST. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte warns to suspend hospitals refusing admission to patients

Marje Pelayo   •   April 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (April 13) threatened to suspend hospitals, especially those operated by the government, if they refuse to admit patients suffering from any kind of illness, including those suspected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This, after the President heard of a patient in Cabanatuan City who died from an ailment after six hospitals rejected him.

President Duterte said that aside from suspension and charges against the facility, staff or doctors responsible for such negligence will be punished by dismissal from work.

“Kaya lahat na magkasakit (that’s why all those who will get sick), especially government hospitals, my order is – [you] must accept admission,” the President said.

“You fail on that, I will relieve all of you from the hospital and you can consider yourself suspended because the written order will follow,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President said the enhanced community quarantine will be useless without the cooperation of the public in observing proper social distancing measures.

Such behavior is causing the rise in number of confirmed cases in the country.

Thus, the President also warned to sanction local government units (LGUs) who are being lax in implementing strict social distancing protocol.

“Kayong mga mayors, huwag kayong maglaro kung ayaw ninyo mag-social distancing, mapipilitan ako puntahan ka at arestuhin ka. Ayaw kong mag-aresto ng mayor, (To all mayors, do not play around. If you don’t enforce social distancing measures, I will be compelled to come to your place and arrest you),” the Chief Executive warned local officials who insist on imposing their own ordinances different from what the national government orders.

Sa panahon na ito ang batas isa lang, ang batas ng (Department on Health) as implemented by Lorenzana, Año, Galvez.  Silang tatlo. Iyan ang batas ngayon (At this time, there is only one law and that is the one ordered by the DOH as implemented by Lorenzana, Año, Galvez — those three. That is the law at present),” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mandatory disclosure of COVID-19 patients’ info only to DOH, not to public — IATF

Marje Pelayo   •   April 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has ordered the mandatory disclosure of information of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

“Para po matulungan ang contact-tracing efforts ng ating pamahalaan, mandatory o required na po ang paglalahad ng personal na impormasyon pagdating sa ating mga Covid-19 cases,” said Cabinet Secretary and IATF-EID Spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) will spearhead the government’s contact-tracing efforts on individuals who had close contacts with COVID-19 patients and together with the Department of Health will enter into a data sharing agreement with other government agencies and local government units (LGUs) for that matter.

Nograles, however, clarified in a separate briefing that the order is limited between agencies only, and does not require the patient to disclose his or her information to the public.

This was in response to claims that the mandatory disclosure of personal information may breach the Data Privacy Act.

“We’re not telling the patients to disclose to the public. We are telling the patients to disclose to the DOH all accurate and honest information,” Nograles said during a virtual presser on Monday (April 13).

“DOH ang siyang repository at safekeeper ng information but DOH, in the context of contact tracing may ask LGUs and law enforcement agencies to help in contact tracing. To do that, DOH must necessarily share the information with these enforcers, but all mindful of the provisions under the Data Privacy Act,” he explained.

Nograles said the DOH will formulate the guidelines on the data disclosure of personal information of COVID-19 patients which they expect to help in the conduct of the contact tracing efforts of the government as part of containment measures against COVID-19. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

DOH asks public not to discriminate vs COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday (April 5) asked the public not to mistreat or discriminate against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

Such behavior would definitely have an impact on the country’s efforts in fighting the disease.

“Nalulungkot po kami kapag nakakarinig ng mga kwento ng ating mga positive cases, kasama na rin ang ating exposed healthcare workers, na nakakaranas ng diskriminasyon at stigma, [It saddens us to hear stories of positive cases including exposed healthcare workers who experienced discrimination and stigma],” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a briefing on Sunday.

“Gusto ko lamang pong sabihin sa lahat,  pakiusap (na) huwag mamahiya ng mga taong may COVID-19, [I ask everybody to please, do not shame patients with COVID-19],” she added.

The official said the ‘stigma’ against COVID-19 positive patients may lead to other positive patients to conceal their condition which consequently could compromise the national government’s efforts to address their condition.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) has urged the local governments to formulate measures that would penalize any act of discrimination and harassment against frontliners and COVID-19 positive patients.

IATF-EID spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles warned that acts of discrimination such as coercion, slander and physical injuries shall be dealt with under the law as well as dishonoring of contractual obligations like contracts of lease or employment of COVID-19 patients.

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