FIFTEEN more individuals tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to bring the country’s total to 217, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
There is also one new recovery among the COVID-19 patients in the country, Patient 20, the eighth to recover.
The number of fatalities remained at 17.
With COVID-19 cases continuously increasing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who has gone on self-quarantine, said government is looking at converting one or two hospitals into an exclusive facility for COVID patients.
These are the Philippine General Hospital in Manila City and/or the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City.
“It seems like a good idea to have a facility exclusively treating COVID-19 patients only. This is so other patients won’t be adversely affected and put at risk,” he said in a phone interview.
He noted that having COVID-19 patients in medical centers puts immuno-compromised patients at risk.
“As of now, hospital services are being affected, especially for their patients needing surgery, in the pediatrics, as well as those with cancer, hypertension, stroke. They are being put at risk one way or another,” he said.
The DOH said Patient 20 is a 48-year-old Filipino male from Cavite, with travel history to Japan. He was admitted on March 7 to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) and was discharged after testing negative for COVID-19 twice.
A 31-year-old Filipino hotel restaurant worker in Macau tested positive for COVID-19 after he arrived from a vacation in the Philippines, Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center (RCC) said.
The Filipino becomes the 15th confirmed case in the Chinese territory.
“The latest case involves a 31-year-old male resident of the Republic of the Philippines, who is a non-resident worker registered with the Macau authorities employed in a restaurant located in a Macau casino property,” the RCC said.
“The patient is now being kept in isolation for treatment at Conde S. Januario hospital,” it added.
Macau authorities said the patient went on leave from January 27 to March 15 to visit his family in the Philippines. He returned to Macau on March 16 but a day after, he went to the Kiang Wu hospital complaining of fever, rash and a toothache.
“He was at that time categorized as a person with moderate risk of COVID 19 infection, ” the RCC said, adding he was allowed to return to his residence after receiving some initial treatment and a COVID 19 diagnostic test.
Test samples he submitted were examined at the Public Health Clinical Center which on Wednesday, March 18, confirmed he is positive for the coronavirus.
“Further details of the 15th patient’s travel history and of those people that might be identified as having had close contact with him since arrival in Macau will be disclosed in a timely manner,” it said.
Macau has listed five new COVID-19 cases since last Sunday- all are confined at the Conde S. Januario hospital. Its 10 previous COVID cases have been discharged from the hospital.
There are about 30, 000 Filipinos living and working in Macau.
NO 2ND TEST FOR ZUBIRI
Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he is declining a second COVID-19 test recommended by Duque to make sure of his test result.
In a statement, Zubiri said since the COVID-19 test kits are limited, it is better to use the kits on those who need these badly, like those showing symptoms of being infected with the virus
“There’s a lot of buzz on the news of Secretary Duque’s statement that I may be false positive and that I may need another test. That Sir, may not be necessary at all. With all due respect to our dear Secretary, i feel that the remaining available testing kits should be utilized by those who need them the most, like frontline medical personnel and symptomatic patients, especially the elderly,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri said he is doing fine and is slowly recovering. — With Ashzel Hachero and Raymond Africa