By Genalyn Kabiling
The military and police have deployed around 395 medical personnel to attend to patients staying at recently converted quarantine facilities in Metro Manila.
President Duterte has highlighted the support given by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to boost the country’s health frontliners in his sixth weekly report to Congress on the government’s coronavirus response.
“In support of the establishment of the Mega Treatment and Monitoring Facilities, the AFP has deployed 66 personnel to the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, 75 personnel to the World Trade Center, and 17 personnel to the Quezon Institute quarantine facility,” Duterte said.
“The PNP, on the other hand, deployed 237 personnel to the Philippine International Convention Center quarantine facility,” he added. The police contingent included doctors, nurses, and medical reserve forces.
To further augment the human resources for health, the President said the Department of Health has approved the emergency hiring of 2,083 health workers upon the requests of several hospitals and quarantine facilities.
As of April 30, he said around 449 health workers have signed up and will be assigned to facilities in Metro Manila. An additional 95 health workers trained to collect and encode case data have been deployed to 45 hospitals.
COVID-19 hospitals, quarantine facilities, healthcare supplies
In his report to Congress, the President said the country so far has 1,426 COVID-referral hospitals with a 9,932-bed capacity. At least 37.57 percent of the beds are occupied.
The total number of mechanical ventilators has reached 1,732, with 948 from private hospitals and 784 from public hospitals.
The government has converted 48 evacuation centers into temporary health and quarantine facilities that have served 725 persons. Several buildings and sea vessels have also been converted into quarantine centers.
As of April 30, Duterte said around 23,874 Filipinos have been repatriated to the country. Of this number, 11,973 have completed their respective quarantine.
The health department has also facilitated 181 foreign and local donations of medical supplies and equipment. Among the donated items are 2.4 million surgical masks, 51 ventilators, 221,210 N95 masks, and 183,819 personal protective equipment (PPE) sets.
Around 84,400 PPE sets procured by the government have been distributed to 66 private hospitals, 21 public hospitals, six centers for health development, and the Bangsamoro region.
At least 1,000 PPE sets were delivered to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Quezon City.
According to the President, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in partnership with the Quezon City government, tested and deployed a prototype Mobile Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Thermal Scanner.
“This scanner is programmed with the aid of drone technology to alert, detect, and take photographs of persons with high temperature readings,” he said.
He also said DOST is also working with schools and private entities for the design and manufacture of ventilators, while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is developing a prototype automatic contactless hand sanitizer dispenser.
Testing capacity, contract tracing
On the country’s testing capacity, Duterte said there are 19 fully functional COVID-19 accredited laboratories with a daily capacity of 6,170 tests as of April 29. Five mega treatment and monitoring facilities are also now operational.
He said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) will conduct a a performance evaluation of Food and Drug Administration-approved coronavirus rapid antibody test kits for commercial use. The validation testing for each kit will take 10 weeks.
He said the health department has reported an increase in the maximum testing capacity of 19 laboratories from 6,220 to 8,935 daily capacity “exceeding the target of 8,000 tests per day.”
On strengthening contract tracing measures, Duterte said DOH has launched Oplan Complete Case Information.
As of April 28, the department has reported 32,107 cumulative close contracts traced from 7,906 cumulative cases.
A total of 17 out of 19 sub-national laboratories are also using the COVID-19 Information system.