Raps filed vs. Chinese nationals caught in raided underground COVID-19 clinics in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 5, 2020   •   719

MANILA, Philippines – Multiple charges have been filed by authorities against Chinese nationals who were arrested for running medical facilities allegedly treating fellow Chinese infected with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) said charges for the violation of Republic Act (RA) 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act, RA 4226 or the Hospital Licensure Act, and RA 10918 of the Pharmacy Law were filed against the suspects.

The Chinese nationals were arrested after authorities separately raided four structures that were converted into clinics in Parañaque City, Makati City, Angeles City in Pampanga and within the Fontana Resort in Clark City, Pampanga.

On April 26, authorities discovered a clinic containing Chinese medicines which were allegedly being used to treat patients infected with COVID-19.

Parañaque Police said the discovery of the makeshift clinic was accidental after barangay officials reported spotting boxes of medicines with Chinese markings inside the house.

The medicines were found to be illegal as these were not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Local police said the medicines were similar to those being sold on social media.

On May 19, the CIDG raided a villa at the Fontana Leisure Park where they found a makeshift medical facility for Chinese nationals allegedly suffering from coronavirus disease.

Police officers also found boxes of medicines and syringes in the villa.

According to Brigadier General Rhoderick Armamento, a Chinese couple who was allegedly running the facility was arrested during the operation.

“The CIDG was able to file the following cases, violation of RA 9711 ito yung Food and Drug administration Act dahil we found out na nag-prescribe sila ng gamot na hindi naman otorisado ng FDA,” Armamento said.

“Pangalawa yung violations of RA 4229, ito yung hospital licensure act dahil nagpractice sila, ang-admit sila, nag-administer sila ng mga pasyente ng wala namang kaukulang lisensya o permiso galing sa IATF and as well as doon sa ating health authorities. At pangatlo yung violations of RA 10918 o yung pharmacy law,” he added.

Armamento said they couple arrived in the country in November with a working permit.

“Magma-manage sila ng isang hospital, medical facility pero ‘di specific kung saan,” he said.

The CIDG official said over 490 employees and guests of Fontana resort who were present during the raid underwent swab test as they may have come in contact with suspected COVID-19 patients undergoing treatment in the said clinic.

Continuing pa rin yung lockdown ng Fontana leisure park. We are just waiting for the result as soon as makuha namin yung result ng swabbing ma-find out na natin kung sino ang positive at negative. Then doon na yung magde-determine kung ilang days yung quarantine period noong lugar na yun,” Armamento said.

On May 26, the police raided a Chinese clinic in Barangay San Antonio, Makati City where they found patients undergoing treatment.

Boxes of medicines, COVID-19 test kits and other medical supplies were also seized in the facility.

A Chinese doctor and his companion was arrested after they failed to present a license to operate.

The Makati Police said the operation stemmed from the complaints of residents about their drainage system frequently clogged with syringes.

On May 28, two Chinese nationals, one of whom was a doctor, were arrested by authorities during a raid in a subdivision in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Medicines unregistered with the FDA were also found in the suspected underground facility.

According to PNP chief General Archie Gamboa, they are still investigating the connection between these illegal clinics.

He also called on people wanting to establish clinics amid the COVID-19 crisis to follow the law and coordinate with concerned agencies.

“’Yung mga gustong mag-establish ng hospitals or clinics, please dumaan kayo sa Department of Health para hindi na kayo na kailangang i-raid pa ng Philippine National Police para, anyway ang intention naman natin is para magamot ang ating mga kasamahan,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Facility-based isolation for asymptomatic, mild COVID-19 cases now mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now requiring facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases through IATF Resolution 74.

The new policy however, exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities and their home meets the conditions specified in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001. 

Likewise, another exception is when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

Iloilo City placed under MECQ from Sept. 25 until Oct. 9

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Iloilo City has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective September 25 until October 9 due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque the new measure is based on the issued Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 74 which also requires facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases.

However, the resolution exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities as confirmed by the local health officer.

Another exception would be when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

On Tuesday (September 22), 33 employees of the Iloilo City Hall tested positive for COVID-19 prompting the three-day temporary closure of the establishment beginning Wednesday (September 23) as declared by Mayor Jerry Treñas in Executive Order No. 215-A.

Prior to that, 13 barangays in the city were placed under total lockdown due to the increase in community transmission of COVID-19.

No more deadline: Hiring of contact tracers to continue until target is reached – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it will do away with deadlines and instead continue to hire contact tracers until their target of at least 50,000 is reached.

In a statement, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the agency’s provincial and city field offices will continue to accept applications until the slots allocated to them have been filled up.

The department earlier announced that the submission of applications for contact tracers is only until Sept. 23.

 “What’s important to us is to fill up the slots and recruit the most number of Contact Tracers as provided in the Bayanihan 2 law so those who meet the deadline will immediately be processed but we will continue to accept applications until we have met our targets,” he said.

Malaya said that some 10,000 individuals have already applied in Metro Manila but many have incomplete documents so they are giving more time for them to complete the requirements on a first come, first served basis.

“As soon as they are deemed qualified by the selection board, they will be hired, trained, and deployed to the various LGUs,” he added.

The DILG official said the first batch of DILG-hired contact tracers will be deployed to the local government units by first week of October.

The department earlier said that local and overseas Filipino workers whose service have been recently terminated or their employment contracts were not renewed amid the pandemic will be given priority in the hiring process.

 To qualify, the applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree or college level in an allied medical course or criminology course.

Aspirants must also be skilled in data gathering and have assisted in research and documentation; able to interview COVID-19 cases and close contacts in order to gather data; possess the ability to advocate public health education messages; and have investigative capability.
 
“While our first preference is college graduates or college level of allied medical courses or criminology, we are also open to graduates or college level of any course. So, we urge them to apply and help the country defeat COVID-19,” he said.
Malaya said applicants are required to submit an application letter, Personal Data Sheet, National Bureau of Investigation clearance, diploma or transcript of record, and drug test result to the nearest DILG provincial or city field office.

Contact tracers will earn a minimum of P18,784 per month in a contract of service status.

Their responsibilities include conducting interviews, profiling, and perform an initial public health risk assessment of COVID-19 cases and their identified close contacts; refer the close contacts to isolation facilities; conduct enhanced contact tracing in collaboration with other agencies and private sectors; conduct daily monitoring of close and general contacts for at least 14 days, and perform such other tasks in relation to the COVID response.

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