DOH defends deployment of ‘Doctors to the Barrios’ to Cebu City; says it acted within bounds of authority

Published June 29, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Betheena Unite

The Department of Health on Monday defended its move to order the reassignment of Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) in Cebu City amid the recent spike of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), saying it “only acted within the bounds of its authority.”

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

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the department only acted pursuant to Sec. 2 of Proclamation 922, which states that with the existing public health emergency in the country, assistance and cooperation of all government agencies and local government units are expected to work together in addressing the COVID-19 threat.

“Hence the department acted within the bounds of its authority when it ordered the redeployment of the DTTBs. Recent spike of cases in the region has led to more Cebu-centered responses however the primary intent of the DTTBs remain and that is to serve all people in the country,” Vergeire stressed during a virtual press briefing.

The health official also said that “continuous dialogue” between the department and the DTTB batches 36 and 37 on their deployment in Cebu City are being conducted.

New cases

Meanwhile, close to a thousand cases were added to the confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country on Monday.

As of June 29, the Philippines recorded a total of 36,438 cases with 985 new cases recorded on that day. Patients who recovered were 270, taking the total recoveries to 9,956; while the death toll is at 1,255 with 11 new fatalities.

Of the new cases, 643 are fresh cases while 342 are late cases. Of the active cases, 23,451 or 95.6 percent are mild cases, 126 are severe cases, 26 are in critical condition, and 922 patients are asymptomatic.

‘Be mindful in comparing’

The health department also reminded the public to be careful in comparing the COVID-19 figures between countries, saying that we should not “cherry pick countries for comparison since there are factors to consider.”

This came after data from the WHO showed that the Philippines has the “fastest rise” in COVID-19 cases in the Western Pacific Region in two weeks.

“Dapat po tayong mag-ingat sa pagkukumpara o paghahambing sa pagitan ng mga bansa dahil mahalaga ang konteksto ng kanilang healthcare system capacity, economic status at iba pa. (We must be careful in comparing countries because there are contexts that must be considered like a country’s healthcare system capacity, economic status, among others),” Vergeire said.

“Kung kinakailangan talagang magkumpara, mas mainam na tingnan natin ang ibang bansa sa kabuuan ng ASEAN (If we really need to compare, then it’s better to include other countries in the ASEAN region),” the undersecretary added.

The department, however, compared the country’s total cases against Indonesia and Singapore, which have 52,812 and 43,246 cases respectively as of June 28.

It also emphasized that the country’s case fatality rate is at 3.55 percent, which is higher than the 2.9 percent fatality rate in the ASEAN region but lower than the global fatality rate of 5.15 percent.