After meeting with the management and staff of key COVID-19 referral hospitals, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III informed them that more personal protective equipment (PPEs) will be distributed to government hospitals.

Secretary Duque reassured health care workers that, aside from the initial 15,000 PPEs, some 885,000 sets are still expected to arrive as the Department of Health (DOH) continuously works with other government agencies and the private sector to transport them to the Philippines. The expansion of the country’s PPE supply comes as the DOH ramps up efforts to build the country’s capacity to handle COVID-19 cases.

“We already have 15,000 PPEs being distributed day by the Office of Civil Defense,” Duque said as he made the rounds in the Lung Center of the Philippines, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and Quezon Institute, designated COVID-19 referral centers and quarantine facilities, to engage with hospital management and health care workers and volunteers, and to assess the public health sector’s capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.

Of the initial 15,000 PPEs, the AFP Medical Center received 1,100; the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC), 770; San Lazaro Hospital, 2,780; the Lung Center, 2,800; the Philippine General Hospital, 2,000; and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (DJNRMH), 2,590.

The DOH is making arrangements for the transport of the 885,000 remaining PPEs. “We are currently using a C130 plane to transport these PPEs, and one flight can accommodate 15,000 PPEs. The team is trying to arrange for a bigger plane to transport the PPEs to health care workers faster. We are working with the aviation industry to see what can be done,” the Health Chief said.

Sec. Duque also met with the management of said hospitals to discuss how the government can enhance their response mechanisms as COVID-19 referral hospitals and centers. The Lung Center currently has 22 COVID-19 positive patients and 29 persons under investigation (PUIs), while DJNRMH has 14 confirmed cases and 13 PUIs. Quezon Institute currently has no COVID cases, but is preparing to accept patients. The DOH has coordinated with the Quezon City Health Department for the referral of patients.

“We expect the QI to be ready to accept patients by Monday. They now have three triaging tents set up,” Sec. Duque reported.

The Secretary also thanked volunteers who are working in various hospitals in the country. “The volunteers are doing lifesaving work. We would like to assure them that we are coming up with ways to protect them and to recognize the valuable work that they do. We are deeply grateful for their heroic efforts.” he said.

Sec. Duque says he will continue to monitor the situation in other hospitals and see how the DOH can beef up the country’s response to Covid-19.

“We are engaging with other hospitals at the moment. I appreciate the feedback and the sharing of best practices and areas for improvement. We will continue to exert our best efforts to address the issues that were raised by the hospitals,” the Secretary concluded.