Those in Metro Manila don’t need to wear N95 masks says DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2020   •   961

MANILA, Philippines – People living in Metro Manila don’t really need to buy, wear – or hoard – N95 face masks amid the eruption of Taal Volcano, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday.  

The DOH made the clarification following the increase in the prices and demand for N95 mask and other similar protective gear after Taal ashfall reached parts of Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

“Pero dito po sa mga areas like Metro Manila, Region 3, yung mga areas po na nasabugan nga po ng ashfall, puwede naman po tayong gumamit ng not necessarily ng N95, but we can use the regular surgical mask,” Health Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana said in a press briefing.

She also called on traders and the public to reserve available supplies of N95 face masks to people that need it the most, particularly those evacuated from the Taal Volcano 14-kilometer danger zone.

“Huwag na muna tayong gumamit ng N95 mask dito sa Metro manila, ibigay na po muna natin sa ating mga kababayan sa areas ng Batangas at Cavite,” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned retailers taking advantage of the demand for face masks amid the eruption of Taal volcano.

“Kasi itong mga negosyante if the demand is high then magkakaroon tayo ng medyo magkulang, then the prices go up. Or the worst thing that they can do if they have enough supplies and yet they are selling it at prohibitive prices already. So I’m setting the limit,” Duterte said.

“Mura na man ‘yan, bakit…? Do not hoard it. ‘Pag itinago ninyo then I will be forced to order na pasukin ka,” he warned.

For people who cannot buy or get their hands on N95 face masks, the DOH said they may use alternatives to protect themselves from the dangers of volcanic ash.

They may use old t-shirts, cloth, bandana or wet strips of cloth to cover their nose and mouth to avoid inhalation of fine dust particles.

“Pinaka-critical lang po and very basic yung something moist, para yung ashfall mababara niya yung pagpasok ng ashfall, yung ingestion through the nose and through the mouth,” Laxamana said.

The DOH earlier warned the public of the hazards of Taal Volcano’s steam-driven explosion on Sunday, saying that exposure to volcanic ash can cause nose and throat irritation, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, discomfort while breathing, eye irritation and minor skin problems.

The department also advised the public to stay indoors, minimize exposure to ash and use dust masks.

The DOH, meanwhile, advised residents in Quezon and Laguna areas to prepare for possible ashfall from Taal Volcano as the wind direction is seen to shift in the following days. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DOH asks hospitals to increase bed capacity to accommodate more COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   July 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is asking hospitals across the country to increase their bed capacity to accommodate more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

This is because most major hospitals in Metro Manila are already in the danger zone or nearing full capacity due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. 

Administrative Order No.2020-0016 states that hospitals must allot 30% bed capacity for COVID-19 cases; but currently, public hospitals are utilizing 20% bed capacity while 9% in private hospitals.

Commitment po ng mga private hospitals po na maglaan ng 20 percent ng kanilang total functional bed capacity for COVID. Nakiusap ako na kung pwedeng kung kailangan ay dagdagan pa ng 10 percent para maging 30 percent,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said. 

[It is the commitment of private hospitals to allot 20 percent of their total functional bed capacity for COVID. I asked them, if possible, to increase their capacity by 10 percent to make it 30 percent.]

Samantala ang atin pong mga pampublikong mga hospital ay atin pong pinakiusap ay yung 30 percent naman nila na allocated for COVID ay kinakailangan up to 50 percent ng kanilang bed capacity,” he added.

[Meanwhile, our private hospitals were also asked to increase bed capacity from 30 percent and make it 50 percent for COVID patients.]

At present, four major hospitals in Metro Manila have declared full capacity and can no longer accept COVID-19 patients. 

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the Philippines’ problems with bed capacity for COVID-19 cases. 

WHO Active Country Rep. Dr. Rabindra Abesayinghe recommends that only the severe and critical cases who needed critical care in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) be accepted to address the matter. 

“Other measures that need to be done and the government is practicing now is encouraging the management of mild cases or asymptomatic positives in so called isolation centers, rather than admitting them to hospitals,” he said. 

“Because mild or asymptomatic people don’t require the facilities available in a hospital to manage them,” he added. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Burial for COVID-19 victims allowed but should be done within 12 hours—DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

Burial for victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is allowed but should be done within 12 hours, according to the guidelines implemented by the Department of Health (DOH).

“We are still following our Code on Sanitation dito sa ating bansa and ang Law for Notifiable Diseases. Nakalagay dito na ang isang pasyenteng mamamatay sa infectious disease, kailangan within 12 hours mailibing natin, (We are still following our Code on Sanitation and Law for Notifiable Disease in our country. It is stated that a patient who succumbed to an infectious disease should be buried within 12 hours),” according to the statement of DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The protocols for the burial of COVID-19 victims is based on the Department Circular No. 0067 released in February.

Vergeire also said the casket should be double sealed and should not be reopened once it is closed. She added that buried remains of patients infected with the novel coronavirus shall not be exhumed for whatever reason.

The DOH said they are aware of the increasing number of COVID-19 deaths and the long queues in crematoriums. There are also reports of dwindling supply of urns. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH still allows home quarantine but under strict guidelines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) clarified that home quarantine is still allowed provided it passes strict health and safety guidelines.

DOH Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said a home quarantine should meet several conditions otherwise a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient should stay in the isolation facilities provided by their local government.

Kailangan may sarili silang kuwarto at may sariling banyo sa bahay. Pangalawa, masisiguro na may adequate monitoring sa kanila. Kung hindi natin maco-comply conditions, the best pa rin talaga ang Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility (They need to have their own room and bathroom at home. Secondly, there should be adequate monitoring. If they cannot comply with the conditions, it is best if they are transferred to the Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility),she said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, co-chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Sunday (July 12) discouraged home quarantine for mild COVID-19 patients due to the risk of spreading the disease at home. –AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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