#COVID-19 Regional Updates (04/20/20)

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Transportation, construction among priority sectors in Baguio’s post-quarantine plan

BAGUIO City officials met on Monday to discuss the transition plan towards a partial lifting of restrictions imposed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said the program towards economic recovery will be taken like “baby steps” to ensure that the health situation also remains under control. “We cannot engage into business as usual come May… We ease up per sector, not all and not right away,” he said in a statement from the city information office. Transportation and construction are among the priority sectors eyed for resumption. Meanwhile, the Baguio city council has passed a resolution asking the Department of Health (DoH) and COVID-19 national task force to provide an additional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, re-agents and other related supplies and equipment to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) to increase its current testing capacity. The BGHMC, one of the DoH-accredited COVID-19 test facilities outside Metro Manila, has only one PCR machine with a capacity of up to 300 test per day. The laboratory handles samples from Baguio City, other parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and serves as a confirmatory test center for the initial screening tests undertaken in northern Luzon. As of the weekend, CAR recorded 24 confirmed COVID-19 patients, of whom 18 are from Baguio City and three each in the provinces of Abra and Benguet. Of the positive patients, six are admitted in hospital, 17 have recovered while one died. There were 521 suspect cases, including 88 admitted in hospitals and the rest under quarantine at home or a designated facility. – Marifi S. Jara

Protecting Ormoc’s garbage frontliners

ENRO

Ormoc City’s garbage collectors under the Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) receive protective gear donated by the Rotary Club of Ormoc. The city still has no confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 case as of April 19.

Davao Doctors Hospital provides surgery service back-up to SPMC

DAVAO Doctors Hospital (DDH) has responded to the call of state-run Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) for private health facilities to help with patients who need care not related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). SPMC chief of hospital Leopoldo J. Vega, in a text message last week, said they have already signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with DDH for the referral scheme. “Davao Doctors has responded and we already have a MOA. We will start with the Department of Surgery,” Mr. Vega said. Under the agreement, DDH will apply the No Balance Billing (NBB) policy to surgery patients referred by SPMC. The NBB policy of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), in line with the Universal Health Care law, “enables the vulnerable sectors of the program such as the poor and the elderly to pay no more in excess of their PhilHealth coverage when confined in government facilities.” “Patients will not be charged extra and all services will be covered by PhilHealth,” Mr. Vega explained in a text message. The agreement will be in effect until SPMC can again start accepting non-COVID-19 patients. SPMC, the biggest government-owned hospital in Mindanao, has been designated as a COVID-19 treatment facility. It is also currently the only accredited COVID-19 testing laboratory in the southern island. Mr. Vega said he is reaching out to other private hospitals for a similar arrangement catering to indigent patients, especially those in need of urgent and critical care. “It is the only way that we can help out these indigent patients who can no longer be admitted at SPMC because of the many positive and probable cases that we have right now,” he said. Davao Region has the highest number of COVID-19 patients in Mindanao with 105 as of April 19, of whom 58 have recovered while 16 died. “We want to concentrate now on COVID patients and so that we can allocate our human resources and PPEs (personal protective equipment),” he said. DDH is 34% owned by Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc. of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC). MPIC is one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group. – Maya M. Padillo

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