DOH REPORTS EFFORTS TO CONDUCT MORE TESTS, PREPARE MORE QUARANTINE FACILITIES, AND BACKS “SCIENCE-BASED APPROACH” TO DETERMINE INTERVENTIONS

Press Release/03 April 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) announced its efforts with other government agencies to conduct more tests and prepare more quarantine facilities, as it ramps up the country’s fight against COVID-19.

“We expect that the number of confirmed cases in the country will continue to rise as we test more people,” DOH Health Promotion and Communication Service Director and Special Assistant to the Secretary Director Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, reported in today’s Beat COVID-19 virtual presser.

“Ngunit, hindi po natin ito dapat ikabahala. Mas gusto po natin na ma-confirm ngayon pa lang ang mga positive cases upang mas mapagtuunan sila ng pansin at maiwasan na sila ay makahawa pa ng iba,” Ho further explained.

DOH emphasized that mass testing will be conducted to target those who are in need — all persons under investigation, and the vulnerable populations including health care workers who are exposed to confirmed cases.

DOH is also intensifying its efforts to analyze existing medical data for a more accurate assessment of the current health situation, and working with other government agencies to construct quarantine facilities to accommodate more confirmed cases.

It also recognized the active role of private health facilities like the Fe Del Mundo Medical Center (FDMMC), a health facility located at Banawe St., Quezon City, in the fight against COVID-19. Starting Monday, April 6, the FDMMC will serve as one of the exclusive COVID-accepting hospitals (COVAH) in Metro Manila.

LCP “Ask Force” and PGH Telemedicine hotline

Director Ho announced several initiatives recently launched to provide the public with access to medical consultations without having to leave their homes.

The Lung Center of the Philippines is tapping Facebook with “Ask Force”, an online consultation where people can have a consultation with doctors whom they can ask to assess symptoms or answer their questions about COVID-19. The free service given by over 600 volunteer doctors has conducted a total of 3,000 consultations so far.

In partnership with PLDT, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) has also launched a dedicated telemedicine hotline for its COVID-19 Bayanihan Operations Center. Operated by volunteers, the public can reach medical professionals through the number 155-200, available 24 hours a day.

The telemedicine efforts are a welcome development to reinforce DOH’s message for people to stay at home as it emphasized the role of individuals in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Case updates

As of April 3, 4 pm, DOH reported 385 new cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 3,018. A total of 52 patients have recovered, after one patient recovered today.

DOH also reported 29 new deaths bringing the total number of deaths to 136. This latest number includes deaths that were belatedly reported to DOH.

Science to take lead in the fight against COVID-19

“We look to science for guidance and to lower our uncertainty, para mabawasan ang ating kawalan ng katiyakan. Kailangan natin ang siyensiya upang malaman kung anu-anong mga steps ang dapat gawin para matalo ang COVID-19,” Ho said. The Department is in touch with the leaders of Philippine medicine, epidemiology and public health, as well as mathematicians, engineers and economists. Together, all sectors working to make sense of new information coming out everyday, and assessing whether solutions are applicable for the local setting. 

Director Ho also asked the public to “get used to a different kind of normal” while a COVID vaccine is not yet invented, as “our best weapons are our preventive measures.”  “We are hoping that the good habits we cultivate now will stick with us like it is second nature,” Director Ho concluded.