By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is preparing a P5.09-billion emergency response project to further improve the country’s healthcare system against the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the Department of Health (DOH) proposal, President Duterte has bared plans to establish testing and quarantine centers at six major airports, equip more laboratories for coronavirus cases, and establish negative pressure rooms and isolation tents, among others.
“The National Economic and Development Authority-Investment Coordination Committee has approved the proposed COVID-19 Emergency Response Project of the DOH with a total project cost of P5.09 billion,” Duterte said his fourth weekly report to Congress on the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease.
The proposed emerging response program includes the establishment of “testing and quarantine facilities at six major international airports in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” according to the President.
The health department has also proposed building 21 first-line decontamination facilities at international airports in selected areas across the country.
The proposal also involves refurbishing and establishing negative pressure isolation rooms in 70 DOH and 85 provincial public hospitals. The installation of 450 isolation tents has also been proposed by the DOH.
The project likewise includes the provision of personal protective equipment sets; COVID-19 test kits; diagnostic and life support equipment such as ventilators, oxygen machines, cardiac monitors, infusion pumps, and portable x-ray machines; as well as provision for ambulances.
The DOH’s emergency response project comes as the country’s cases of infections have increased to 6,459 as of April 20. At least 428 patients have died while 613 have recovered from the illness.
Protection for health workers
The President said the government continues to mobilize resources to provide health and medical supplies and equipment to frontliners.
As of April 16, he said the DOH has received the government-procured PPEs that include 254,590 goggles, 58,910 KN95 masks, 600,000 surgical masks, and 149,750 gloves.
To ensure the availability of medical supplies and equipment, Duterte said the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Finance, and Bureau of Customs have issued a memorandum providing incentives to companies engaged in the manufacture of critical medicines, supplies, and equipment as well as exemptions from import duties, taxes, and other fees.
Authorities have also suspended the export requirements of exporters for these critical products and requires them to supply at least 80 percent of their daily production for local use.
To promote the safety of health workers and protect them against discrimination, Duterte said local government units have been directed to provide temporary shelter and accommodation to health workers in provincial or city hospitals and other public health facilities with coronavirus cases.
He said the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has also implemented the “Bayanihan Frontliners Fund,” an enhanced group personal accident insurance coverage for frontliners.
“Accordingly, the life insurance coverage has now been increased to P500,000 at no cost to the insured for the period of 12 March 2020 to 31 December 2020,” the President said.