DOH reports 16 new cases of COVID-19; total cases in PH now 49

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Analou De Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) said they recorded 16 new cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 49.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Vergeire (Facebook)
Health Assistant Secretary Maria Vergeire (Facebook)

“The DOH deployed surveillance teams and are now conducting extensive information-gathering and contact tracing activities on the new cases. DOH will provide further details as soon as the information is available,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Vergeire said three patients are in critical condition.

“PH (Patient) 29, a known contact of PH9, is intubated and has underlying cardiovascular and endocrine conditions,” Vergeire said. Patient 29 is an 82-year-old Filipina currently admitted at the Medical City.

The two other patients who are in critical condition were the 5th confirmed case, a 62-year-old man, and the 9th confirmed case, an 86-year-old American. Both patients have underlying medical conditions.

“DOH is continuously monitoring the statuses of all patients to ensure that no complications arise throughout their recovery,” Vergeire said.

Private rooms into isolation rooms

Vergeire said the DOH has ordered all government hospitals to turn their private rooms to isolation rooms as part of their preparation for the potential spread of COVID-19 in the communities.

“As part of our initial stages of preparation for community transmission, we have ordered all government hospitals to stop accepting private patients temporarily,” she said.

“In turn, they should reserve the private rooms of government hospitals to serve as isolation rooms. This is part of our hospital preparedness, wherein in case of a surge capacity where the original bed capacity is exceeded, we will still have enough isolation rooms.”

Meanwhile, Vergeire noted that all level 2 and 3 hospitals “are mandated to accept patients under investigation” as well as confirmed cases of COVID- 19, amid reports that some hospitals are refusing to admit patients with symptoms of the disease.

Local testing kits

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Rolando Enrique Domingo said that there is still a “selection process” on who will be tested for COVID-19 using the test kits developed by University of the Philippines- National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) scientists.

“Medyo may selection pa rin kung sino ang ite-test, hindi pa rin pwedeng widely available to the public (There is still a selection on who will be tested, it is still not widely available to the public],” Domingo said.

“Kasi (Because) even when the test kits are available, ang pinakamaraming maximum na magagawa nun ng (The maximum that can be manufactured by) UP-NIH is about 1,000 tests per week,” he added.

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City handles an average of 300 tests per day.

Domingo said they can start using the testing kits by next week, which ” is still going to be done at the UP-NIH.”

He noted that the test kits are still not available for commercial sale because they only have a “certificate of exemption” and are still not approved by the World Health Organization.

NCC repatriates

The DOH already sent home 442 of the 445 repatriates from the M/V Diamond Princess quarantined at New Clark City (NCC), in Capas, Tarlac after they completed their 14-day quarantine period.

Of that figure, 437 were crew members and five were passengers.

“All repatriates, together with the teams that attended to them, were all tested for COVID-19 to ensure their safety,” Vergeire said.

Meanwhile, two crew members tested positive and are currently admitted at Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital.

The remaining repatriate is left in NCC awaiting lab results, Vergeire said.

“From the beginning, DOH was aware of the risk that some of the repatriates might test positive for COVID-19. This is why strict infection prevention and control measures were enforced during the quarantine period to protect our kababayans (compatriots) and the health workers attending to them,” Vergeire said, quoting Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.