Duterte meets with IATF on medical community’s distress call

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MALACAÑANG said President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with key Cabinet members on Sunday, August 2, 2020, to discuss the medical community’s distress call and their appeal for timeout through the re-imposition of stringent quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila for two weeks until August 15.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement in a Twitter post Sunday, a day after the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) called on the government to place Metro Manila (National Capital Region) under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) again.

The President will meet with key cabinet members today to discuss yesterday’s letter from the frontliners. I will make the proper announcement in due course.

— Harry Roque (@attyharryroque) August 2, 2020

Shortly after the PCP, backed by more than 80 medical societies, issued the call in a letter sent to the President on August 1, Roque said he and other key government officials met with representatives of the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Nurses Association, and the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists to discuss their concerns.

The meeting, which was convened by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, was held Saturday afternoon.

In their letter, the healthcare workers said the country’s healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the rising cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“Our healthcare workers are falling ill as they take care of patients, responding to the call of duty while battling the fear and anxiety Covid-19 brings. Our healthcare workers are burnt out with the seemingly endless number of patients trooping to our hospitals for emergency care and admission,” the group said.

They asked the government to draw up a “consolidated, definitive plan of action” that will address the following:

  • Hospital workforce deficiency because of the “alarming increase” in Covid-19 cases and the need for sick personnel to undergo quarantine, causing facilities to close their doors to Covid-19 patients;
  • Failure of case finding and isolation because of the insistence of local government units (LGU) to test using the inappropriate rapid antibody test instead of RT-PCR;
  • Failure of contact tracing and quarantine because LGU compliance is optional;
  • Transportation safety;
  • Workplace safety;
  • Public compliance with self-protection because of the misperception that the situation is getting better with the progressive lifting of quarantine restrictions;
  • Social amelioration.

“The health sector cannot hold the line for much longer. Our healthcare workers should not bear the burden of deciding who lives and who dies. If the health system collapses, it is ultimately our poor who are most compromised,” they added.

For four consecutive days, the Philippines has broken its daily tally record as the Department of Health reported 3,954 new cases on July 30, 4,063 on July 31, 4,963 on August 1, and 5,032 on August 2.

Metro Manila, or NCR, has consistently topped the areas with the highest number of new infections daily: 1,703 on July 30, 2,267 on July 31, 2,667 on August 1, and 2,737 on August 2.

The country’s total case count surged past 100,000 Sunday and reached 103,185, of which 35,569 were active. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)


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