The number of patients who have recovered from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has a new high after the Department of Health on Wednesday reported 145 new recoveries, raising the total to 2,251.
The highest single-day recoveries previously recorded was 116 on May 8.
On the other hand, the DOH reported an increase of 268 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total to 11,618.
Meanwhile, total death toll was reported at 772 with 21 new fatalities.
Meanwhile, the DOH has called on more health care workers to join the battle versus COVID-19, following the announcement of the IATF for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases new guidelines for community quarantine across the nation.
In the May 12 Beat COVID-19 Virtual Presser, in honor of the International Nurses Day, Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire spoke with the National President of the Philippine Nurses Association, Inc. Dr. Rosie De Leon on the need for more nurses to join the national response against COVID-19.
At the same time, scientists and health advocates have demanded the need for increased COVID-19 testing capacities to know where the country really stood in its fight against the dreaded virus.
Josh Danac, a molecular biologist and a member of the Scientists Unite against COVID-19, said, during a recent webinar hosted by Citizen’s Urgent Response to End COVID-19 (CURE Covid), he was not convinced that the Philippines was finally flattening the curve.
Danac pointed out that the health department might be “reaching the ceiling” of its testing capacity.
Recently, the DOH said they have 26 accredited testing centers, 18 of which are in Metro Manila.
Danac said this could potentially present data gap at how the country was faring in its fight against the pandemic.
Danac, presenting a map of the confirmed COVID-19 cases, said the country appeared to have “uneven spread.” He asked, “are these areas considered hotspots because of the spread of COVID-19 or are they merely equipped with testing centers?”
Without mass testing and availability of more testing centers, Danac reiterated that the Philippines could not isolate and treat COVID-19 patients.
The DOH earlier said it planned to have a testing capacity of 30,000 per day by the end of May.
De Leon said the nurses currently on the frontline had never been more motivated to fight against the pandemic.
She explained that the 24/7 role that nurses play went well well beyond serving the physical needs of the patients. Nurses are also a source of emotional support that help manage the anxiety and fear levels of not just patients, but also all their other co-workers in the hospital.
Amid the call for more nurses, De Leon reiterated that self-discipline was critical for nurses, especially at this time, because they can only help other people through the sickness when they themselves are healthy.
“Together we will fight as one,” she said. “We heal as one nation.”
In a related development, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the government would hire and train contact tracers as part of its coronavirus pandemic response.
The national government will coordinate with local executives for the hiring of contact tracers, who might be needed to perform the duty until next year, Año said, adding "This is really the only way that we can identify those that can be isolated and tested."
The hiring of contact tracers "to boost efforts to stop transmissions and defeat" the pandemic was initially proposed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to help displaced Filipino workers earn money.
The DOH also denied that "errors" cited by the University of the Philippines study as “alarming” but was actually just “nominal and does not affect the overall interpretation and decision making.”
The U.P. Resilience Institute earlier said there were "alarming errors" on the agency's data on patients with COVID-19, which also mismatched the tally of local governments.
“The Department of Health appreciates the concerns raised by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team in its Policy Note 6, dated May 8, 2020,” said the DOH Office of the Secretary in its comment to the UP study.
“We assure the public that the issues raised are a nominal percentage of the whole data set, and does not prejudice the overall interpretation of data and decision making,” the DOH said.
“The DOH has already taken note of the data errors found in the April 24 and 25 data drops,” the DOH said.
The DOH said these issues have been resolved as early as April 26, as well as other inconsistencies communicated by private citizens through firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We very much appreciate the UP Resilience Institute for raising their concerns,” the DOH said.
The DOH said data had been continuously rectified “the moment we identify any issue, including but not limited to date formatting inconsistencies, case classification, and proper identification of residence.”
Nevertheless, they said, the DOH remained committed to transparency, and “we welcome feedback from the expert community.”
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines urged clergy members to mark May 14 as a day of prayer and fasting amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In a circular, CBCP secretary general Fr. Marvin Mejia also asked bishops and diocesan administrators to invite the faithful to join the religious event.
“In this regard, the CBCP Permanent Council requests you to invite all men and women believers in God, the All-Creator, to join in the said appeal in whatever available means of communication currently at your disposal,” Mejia said.
Archdiocese of Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo, meanwhile, asked the people to join the prayer with acts of charity.
“I invite everyone to extend material help to at least one person within your reach, no matter the amount, to make that person feel the care we have for each other. This is a very concrete sign of common activity of all religions since prayer, fasting, and acts of love are common to all, and we are all affected by this pandemic,” Pabillo said in an article posted on the CBCP news website.
The initial proposal for the day of prayer came from the High Committee for the Human Fraternity, which was formed after Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar signed a document on “human fraternity” in 2019.
Earlier this month, the Holy Father invited people to join the inter-religious prayer on May 14 for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the Senate, Senator Manuel Lapid proposed a measure seeking to institutionalize the establishment of tertiary care hospitals in all regions.
His proposal, according to Lapid, would improve the ailing condition of the country's health care system.
Senate Bill 1505 pushes to establish more hospitals all over the country which are classified as tertiary care facilities. The mission is not only to give universal access to health care but to give universal access to a health care institution with world-class quality medical services and are at par with international standards and best practices
The proposed measure envisions that all of the regions in the country will have their own tertiary care hospitals within five years from effectivity of the law. The Department of Health will be tasked to formulate a prioritization plan for the implementation of the law.
Top priority shall be given to all regions which do not have any regional hospital of whatever classification lower than tertiary care. The bill also provides that provinces which are geographically isolated from their region's tertiary care hospital such as island provinces shall also be given priority for the establishment of tertiary care hospital.
|At the same time, Senator Riusa Hontiveros said if the Philippines could commit to test workers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations, then it could also commit to test Filipino workers.
Hontiveros proposed a mandatory coronavirus disease testing of employees who would go back to work in areas placed under general and modified community quarantine.
Under the new rules, movement and mobility in areas still under modified Enhanced Community Quarantine like Metro Manila will remain restricted, although manufacturing and processing plants workforce will be allowed to operate with 50 percent of their workforce.
In areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), government offices and private establishments will be allowed to reopen with as much as 75 percent of their workforce. With PNA