One out of every five COVID-19 cases among health workers in the Philippines are from the government-operated Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, according to data released by the Health department on Monday.
The VSMMC had 148 infected staff as of July 18, which accounted for about 20 percent of the 712 active COVID-19 cases involving health workers in the Philippines, the data showed.
The data also showed that the cumulative total of coronavirus infections among the health workers in the country had already hit 3,938, up by 295 from last week.
Cebu province and Cebu City are among the COVID-19 hot spots in the country.
Rapid testing discouraged
The Health department on Monday discouraged rapid testing to screen employees who are returning to work, and following evidence that it yields false positive or false negative results.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the announcement in a virtual press briefing following the claim of some groups that the use of rapid testing on returning workers had contributed to the increase of COVID-19 cases.
“The [department] has always had that position,” Vergeire said.
She cited a resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force that rapid testing results should not be a condition for an employee to go back to work.
Malacañang on Monday admitted that the distribution of financial aid for the second tranche of the social amelioration program was “slow,” but assured the beneficiaries that the Department of Social Welfare and Development would finish the release by the end of July.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the distribution of the second tranche of the emergency subsidy to the 12 million low-income families had been bogged down by the “slow uploading of the beneficiaries’ information by local government units, limited state personnel and reports of fake messages.
“It’s really slow. I can say that the Palace finds the processing of the second tranche slow,” Roque told reporters.
He said Social Welfare had promised to complete the distribution by the end of July, and that the Palace would hold it to that.
The Labor department said Monday 95,702 Filipino workers had already been repatriated by the government and sent back to their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest batch of 1,691 home-bound workers, of whom all had tested negative for COVID-19, flew to their provinces on July 18 based on data provided by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
In May, more than 34,000 Filipino workers were sent home to their respective regions, and more than 61,000 followed them in the succeeding months.
The United States has donated P14.8 million worth of personal protective equipment to the Philippine General Hospital and other COVID-19 treatment centers in the Philippines, its embassy in Manila said Monday.
"During this month, which began with a commemoration of Philippine-American Friendship Day, we are honored to support our Filipino friends, partners and allies with the PPE they need to assist communities confronting the pandemic,” US ambassador Sung Kim said in a statement.
“This delivery of PPE demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the Philippines to stop COVID-19.”
The donation was made through the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency in coordination with the US Agency for International Development, the statement said.
P5 billion a year
A party-list legislator on Monday proposed that the government set aside at least P5 billion a year to ensure the country is equipped to fight future public health crises.
“It is high time the government started investing in pandemic preparedness and response to help the country fight future pandemics, save lives and cushion their economic impacts as we have seen in this ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera said.
She said the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the people and the economy highlighted the country’s vulnerabilities, which could serve as transformative opportunities to improve the nation’s preparedness in dealing with any public health crisis in the future.