PH authorities on alleged raid, confiscation of PPEs in hospitals: ‘Fake news!’

Robie de Guzman   •   April 2, 2020   •   692

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities on Thursday denied information circulating online that the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) is raiding private hospitals and confiscating stocks of personal protective equipment amid novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

May kumalat po na fake news that some hospitals were raided by government, specifically OCD, to confiscate their supplies and equipment para ipamigay sa ibang hospitals. Fake news po yan,” Mark Timbal, spokesperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC), said in a message to reporters.

The OCD is the implementing arm of the NDRRMC.

On Wednesday night, information about the supposed raid made rounds on social media. The confiscated medical supplies were allegedly being consolidated to be distributed to other health facilities with attributions to a senator.

In a social media post, the Medical City denied the occurrence of such an incident.

“There are news circulating that a raid of PPEs occurred in our premises on the evening of April 1. We deny this and encourage everyone to be careful in spreading unverified information,” the post read.

Senator Bong Go, whose name surfaced in social media posts in connection with the purported incident, denied the allegation.

“Claims circulating that I am involved in handling donations intended for the government are utterly false, deliberate disinformation, and black propaganda,” Go said in a statement.

He also denied having any hand in OCD operations after it was tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to manage, consolidate and allocate all donations of medical supplies in relation to the government’s COVID-19 response.

“Nais ko po klaruhin na wala po akong kinalaman sa operasyon at mandato ng OCD. Wala rin pong kinalaman ang opisina ko sa distribution ng government resources,” Go said.

According to Timbal, the OCD, like what was done in previous disaster response operations, has been gathering resources through procurement and donations.

“In the case of the COVID-19 response, OCD procured PPEs and other medical supplies and received donations from various donors. These are then provided to various hospital recipients,” he said.

“We are very grateful po to all our donors and the member-agencies of the NDRRMC who provide logistical support for the transport of the various items that we are giving to hospitals across the country,” he added.

He also thanked the media for helping the agency in its fight against false information.

Solon pushes for mandatory use of face shield in public transport

Marje Pelayo   •   July 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — House Committee on Transportation Chair Edgar Sarmiento submitted a resolution seeking to make wearing of face-shields in public transport mandatory.

Sarmiento argued that with such measure, the government may increase the allowable capacity of public utility vehicles as face shields could protect commuters from COVID-19 transmission. 

Sarmiento also urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to oblige commuters to don personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face mask, face shield, gloves and similar protective gear to curb the spread of the virus in public transport.

The lawmaker cited in his resolution a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Standards which revealed that wearing a face shield gives 96% protection from exposure to the virus and 97% protection from contamination and infection.

“We will be increasing, supposedly, the capacity of the rails, the capacity of the buses,” Sarmiento noted.

“Pero ang pasahero kung naka-shield may maskara not only 50% we can increase it further. Tapos hindi lang sila nagkakaharap nagtatalikuran din sila, (If passengers wear face shield, we could allow not only 50% but we can increase it further. Also, aside from facing each other, commuters may also seat back-to-back),” he added.

Wearing a face shield is also being proposed to be included in the government’s minimum public health standards which, if approved, will become mandatory in public areas.

“We will execute the stringent enforcement of minimum public health standards,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“Ito po yung hugas kamay, suot ng mask, social distancing at pagsuot na rin po ng face shields, apat na po ngayon ang ating minimum public health standards, ( these are the washing of hands, wearing of face mask, social distancing, and wearing of face shield. Those four now comprise our minimum public health standards),” he added.

Meanwhile, Dean Vicente Belizario of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Public Health said there is no assurance that a person will not get infected when using or wearing a face shield.

Even the use of motorcycle backride barriers cannot guarantee full protection from infection. 

“Kulang pa po ang ebidensya. Maaaring gumawa ng pag-aaral para ma-establish kung ano ang naitutulong ng barrier o shield pero (There is not enough evidence. Maybe a study can be made to determine the value of a barrier or shield) theoretically, it should add to the layers of protection,” Belizo explained. 

He said that it is still best to constantly remind passengers and drivers to properly wear their PPEs and religiously obey all government – imposed health protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Supply of PPE in PH enough for healthcare workers — DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   July 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) maintained that the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the country is enough for the use of health care workers. 

The agency responded to the claims of a group of nurses from San Lazaro Hospital saying they were not treated well in the hospital.

Iyong PPE sa San lazaro they have enough supply (San Lazaro Hospital has enough supply of PPE). They have adequate supply. Hindi naman ito pinagdadamot ng administration para sa kanilang mga empleyado (The administration is not depriving its employees of PPE supply), ” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The nurses held a ‘silent protest’ in front of the hospital by taking their shoes off and displaying them at the hospital entrance.

(Ipinoprotesta namin) iyong fatigue, iyong under staffing, iyong hindi adequate ang protection nila, iyong kanilang unhealthy workplace environment, iyong kanilang exposure to COVID infection,” said Eleonor Nolasco, the vice president of the group Filipino Nurses United.

(We are protesting because of fatigue, under staffing, inadequate protection, unhealthy workplace environment, the staff’s exposure to COVID infection.)

The DOH assured that the grievances of the protesting frontliners have already been discussed with the hospital management.

“Kinausap na sila ni Secretary Duque at araw- araw tinatawaagan natin sila para i-check nga kung ano ang progress ng pag-uusap din nila with the group of nurses,” assured Vergeire.

(Secretary Duque already discussed the matter with them and everyday, they are being checked as regards the progress relative to what was discussed with the group of nurses.)

The official also noted that the healthcare workers must have been receiving their respective hazard pay and quarantine leave. 

But the group of nurses is determined to sustain their demonstration up to the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s state of the nation address (SONA) next week. 

Para ipakita na sa apat na taon na andito kami sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang gobyerno lahat ng mga hinaing ng nurses ay hindi sapat na natugunan (To show them that in the past four years under this government, the nurses’ concerns were not sufficiently addressed),” Nolasco said. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

OCD denies supplying disinfectant solution that caused police doctor’s death

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2020

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has denied that the disinfectant solution supplied to the quarantine facilities of the Philippine National Police (PNP) which caused the death of a police doctor came from them.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Spokesperson Mark Timbal said the OCD only supplied the PNP with food, janitorial services, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), and other medical equipment.

“Iyong ginamit nilang pang spray hindi po sa amin iyon. Kaya po ang gagawin namin ay makikipagtulungan kami sa PNP to determine itong bagay na ito to an investigation (The spray they used did not come from us. So we will coordinate with the PNP to determine this through an investigation),” he said.

Timbal also said they are prepared to face investigation, if necessary, to determine who needs to be held accountable for the death of Dr. Casey Gutierrez who lost his life after inhaling the disinfectant used at the Philippine Sports Arena Quarantine Facility.

“We welcome the investigation para po malinawan iyong nangyari dyan sa facility na iyan at sa kasamahan nating doctor (to shed light on what happened in the facility and to our fellow doctor),” he said.

On May 24, Gutierrez was said to have had difficulty in breathing after he reportedly inhaled the chemical from the disinfectant spray used during the decontamination procedure. He died on May 30.

Meanwhile, four other police officers were also admitted to the hospital after inhaling the said chemical. –AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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