Opening of quarantine facilities, support to frontliners show government’s capability to handle COVID-19—Galvez

With the opening of three repurposed quarantine facilities this week, and the ongoing efforts to normalize the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for medical frontliners, National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said the government is gaining ground in its efforts to contain the spread of the disease. 

Opening of quarantine facilities, support to frontliners show government’s capability to handle COVID-19—Galvez

“What we are seeing now are the concrete results of our efforts to address the needs of our frontliners, particularly our medical professionals. We have to protect them at all costs,” Galvez, who is the presidential peace adviser, said.

Mass quarantine facilities to open soon

Earlier this morning, Galvez, along with Defense Secretary and NTF chair Delfin Lorenzana, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and Presidential Adviser on Flagship Projects and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Vince Dizon conducted an inspection of three quarantine facilities -- the Rizal Memorial Complex, Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), and World Trade Center (WTC).

The Rizal Memorial Complex, which has a 120-bed capacity, was turned over today to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Three to five doctors and 50 nurses working in three shifts will operate the facility. It will begin accepting patients on April 8.

Meanwhile, the PICC, which can accommodate 294 patients, and the WTC, which has a 502-bed capacity, are expected to begin accepting patients over the weekend. 

According to Galvez, the move was welcomed by doctors, as it will significantly reduce the caseload of hospitals, allowing them to focus their efforts on more critical COVID-19 cases.

“We should not overpopulate the hospitals because our medical frontliners would not be able to effectively do their job. Hence, patients with mild symptoms will be housed instead in the quarantine facilities,” he said.

Galvez said asymptomatic Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) will also be given medical attention at the WTC.

“We fast-tracked the conversion of these facilities for quarantine purposes in line with our strategy of detecting, isolating and treating patients, so that we will prevent the spread of the disease,” Galvez said.

DOH boosts capacity for COVID-19 testing

The chief implementer emphasized the establishment of these quarantine facilities will be complemented by mass testing of PUIs and Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs).

“By bolstering the capability of the DOH to conduct mass testing of PUIs and PUMs, we are moving closer to our goal of flattening the curve of the disease and preventing the onset of new cases,” Galvez said. 

In his daily briefing, Galvez announced that quarantine centers will also be created in other regions of the country.

“At ang iba pang mga rehiyon naman ay mayroon din tayong tinatayo na tinatawag nating mga quarantine centers para paghandaan ang mga PUIs at PUMs na mayroon din silang lugar na mapagtutulugan at mapagpapangalagaan,” he said.

Quoting Department of Health (DOH) data, Galvez said 20,092 individuals have undergone COVID-19 testing and out of this number, 3,660 have tested positive for the disease.

“Nakikita po natin na only 18% ang nagiging tested positive. Magandang pong senyales na ibig sabihin po sa mga tinitest natin ay kokonti lang po ang positive. Pero dapat po hindi po tayo magkumpyansa,” he noted.

There are currently nine COVID-19 testing facilities nationwide: the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, University of the Philippines National Institute of Health (UP-NIH), Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, Western Visayas Medical Center, and Bicol Public Health Laboratory.

“The DOH is expected to increase its testing rate to 3,000 per day as soon as the accreditation of nine hospitals are approved by next week,” Galvez said.

“Sa ngayon meron po tayong 13,025 na PUIs for testing at ito po ay kakayanin na nating ma-test sa mga sususnod na araw. Meron na po tayong 89,938 test kits available. So kayang kaya po natin gawin ito sa mga susunod na araw,” he added.

Galvez said he talked to Sec. Duque and asked him to prioritize the National Capital Region (NCR) in the testing since it is the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Ang sumunod po na medyo apektado ang Region 4, and then sumunod po ang Region 3, and then Davao Region at Zamboanga Region,” he said.

“Though we will seek for the accreditation of the testing center sa Zamboanga Peninsula, we will make sure that in the next few days we will focus more on testing so that we could detect and immediately isolate all possible carriers,” Galvez stressed. 

‘Yan po ang ating taktika, ang ating stratehiya na magkakaroon po tayo ng tinatawag po nating carrier-centric po tayo para po hindi na natin hahayaan na ‘yung mga carrier ay makapanghawa pa,” he said.

Stable supply of PPEs

Meanwhile, 15,000 of around 1 million sets of PPEs procured by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from China arrived at the Villamor Airbase on March 31. 

Of the 15,000 PPEs, 12,075 were immediately distributed to six hospitals: San Lazaro Hospital, AFP Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, UP-Philippine General Hospital, and Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital. 

The government is expecting the delivery on Monday of 30,000 sets of PPEs donated by the Solaire Resort and Casino. 

“Sa Monday and Wednesday meron po tayong flight na Philippine Airlines at Cebu Pacific, at kukuha po tayo ng 93,000 na PPEs sa China. Ito pong Monday and Wednesday flight ay para po ito sa mga Luzon at NCR based na mga hospitals,” Galvez said.

“Sa Thursday and Friday flight na meron po tayong 84,000 PPEs. Ito po ay ibibigay natin sa mga hospitals sa Visayas at Mindanao,” Galvez announced.

Galvez gave the assurance the quality of the PPEs is top of the line.

“Nung bumisita po ako sa Philippine General Hospital tuwang tuwa po ‘yung ating mga nurses at doctors kasi napakagandang isuot at napakalamig at maganda talaga. Level 4 ibig sabihin mataas na level po ‘yung nabili natin sa ating mga PPEs,” Galvez said.

More medical beds to address COVID-19 crisis

He said the country has more than 3,000 beds, including ICU beds, which are suitable for COVID-19 patients.

Galvez said the country’s bed capacity will further increase with the additional 1,000 beds.

“We would like to thank our medical frontliners for their invaluable service to the country. Rest assured that the government is behind you. We will fight this COVID-19 disease together,” Galvez said.

“We would also like to commend and thank the private sector for supporting the government’s efforts in fighting the disease. You are among the nation’s unsung heroes,” he added. 

Extension of ECQ gains wide support

In the meantime, Galvez noted that the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has largely contributed in slowing down and preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

“Many of the doctors, industry professionals, businessmen, national and local government officials and pandemic crisis experts we have talked to are supporting the extension of the ECQ,” Galvez said. 

He called on the public to support the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“On our way forward, let us wait for the decision of the President kung malilift o hindi ang tinatawag nating ECQ. We should be prepared. Kung ano po ang magiging desisyon dahil kasi po itong order na manggagaling kay Presidente ay para sa ating common good. We want this crisis to be over as soon as possible time,”he said.

He said a technical working group (TWG) composed of the National Economic and Development Authority, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Department of Science and Technology, as well experts from the academe, health, economics, and security sectors was created by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in order to assess the feasibility of extending the ECQ.

Galvez said the TWG is now looking at key health, social, economic and security factors before it makes its final recommendation to the NTF. 

“We should be open-minded since this is for our common good and higher good of saving more lives. ‘Yan po ang laging nasa isipan po namin, na sana malagpasan po natin itong pandemic crisis ng COVID-19,” he said.

The Luzon-wide ECQ is expected to end on April 13.

“Malaki ang maitutulong ng pagpapatupad ng ECQ sa pagbaba ng mga bagong kaso ng COVID 19 pero hindi pa sapat ang pagbaba na ito para masabi na ligtas na tayo,” he said.

“Kaya po hinihikayat po namin ang lahat ng ating mga kababayan na patuloy na manatili sa kani-kanilang tahanan upang makatulong sa pagpipigil sa pagkalat ng sakit na eto,” Galvez said.

Opening of quarantine facilities, support to frontliners show government’s capability to handle COVID-19—Galvez

Holy Week and Holy-month of Ramadan

The chief implementer called on the Catholic and Muslim faithful to pray for protection during the Holy Week and the coming holy-month of Ramadan.

“As we observe the solemnity of these holy days, let us pray together that God may spare us. Alam na alam naman natin na darating din ang Ramadan, sana ang ating mga brothers na Muslim ay magsama-sama tayong magdasal para maligtas tayo dito sa health crisis na ating nararamdaman ngayon,” he said.

Topics: Personal Protective Equipment , National Task Force , Carlito G. Galvez Jr.
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