DOH appeals for help from health workers in provinces

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THE Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday, August 2, 2020, asked health workers in the provinces and returning overseas health workers to provide assistance to their exhausted colleagues in Metro Manila.

The agency also asked universities and medical societies to help scout for more doctors, nurses and other medical staff who may be hired as part of a rapid response team that will help attend to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients in Metro Manila or National Capital Region.

“It is not an understatement to say that your brethren in the NCR need your help,” the agency said in a statement, which was issued a day after the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) called for a “timeout” and asked the government to re-impose an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the NCR.

The agency said it will provide hazard pay, accommodations, transport, personal protective equipment (PPE), and psycho-social, emotional and mental support.

Other steps that DOH will take:

  • Beginning Monday, August 3, implementation of Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (Code) with the following key components: community engagement activities to promote preventive behaviors, house-to-house symptom checks as a means of active case finding, RT-PCR testing of those experiencing symptoms, quarantine and isolation of those who test positive for Sars-CoV-2, and use of One Hospital Command System to facilitate admission of patients.
  • Implementation of a roadmap and technical assistance to ensure that local government units (LGUs) put in place effective contact tracing operations. An additional 50,000 contact tracers need to be hired, trained and deployed to hotspots.
  • Development of an Active Transport playbook to guide LGUs on implementation of health protocols. DOH said it is working closely with the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of the Interior and Local Government to fast track policy. It is also working with the Move As One Coalition and Altmobility PH in developing the Active Transport playbook.
  • Crafting of updated supplemental guidelines to ensure safe workplaces and keep the economy working, in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Labor and Employment.

The agency reiterated that testing of employees is not in the guidelines. Instead, employers should make sure that screening for symptoms and monitoring of employees is consistently done.

As agreed during a dialogue with the medical community, DOH said it was committed to proactively lead the implementation of localized lockdowns, revisit its strategy and update it within seven days, and advocate for a timeout in the NCR during the IATF meeting.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, in a separate statement, said he will present PCP’s appeal to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, which he heads.

“In response to your call, we commit to do more to ‘care for our carers’ with detailed plans for support - from easier actions such as facilitating lodging, transportation, PPE, and food - to pushing for more systematic reforms on compensation and benefits, including necessary network-based changes to healthcare practice. We hear you,” Duque said.

He promised to present to the IATF “more comprehensive strategies to protect our ranks.”

In a letter sent to President Rodrigo Duterte, the PCP called for a two-week timeout by placing the NCR under ECQ in order for the government to “refine pandemic control strategies.”

For two straight days, new coronavirus infections in Metro Manila or NCR exceeded 2,000 per day.

DOH case bulletins showed 2,267 new cases in NCR on July 31 and 2,667 on August 1. On July 30, the number of new cases in NCR was also high at 1,703.

The rising cases in NCR have pushed the country’s daily tally of infections upward.

In the last three days, the country has set new record high infections at 3,954 on July 30, 4,063 on July 31, and 4,963 on August 1. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)


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