700 sign up for volunteer work

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    Health workers in Calabarzon. (Photo from the OVP)

    DESPITE the scare and panic being caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), almost 700 individuals have volunteered to serve as frontliners in government hospitals, according to the Department of Health.

    In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH has enlisted 690 volunteer health workers as of Saturday.

    She said the volunteer health care workers will be deployed for 14 days and will be off for the next 14 days. For every two-week duty of the health care volunteer, he or she will need to undergo a two-week quarantine period afterwards, she said.

    Hhe volunteers are set to be deployed to the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, Philippine General Hospital in Manila City, or Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City. The three hospitals have been designated by the DOH as COVID-19 referral centers to where majority of confirmed or suspected patients will be brought.

    As to their compensation, Vergeire said the DOH apologizes over the P500 per day allowance that will be provided to the volunteers.

    She said the DOH is aware that many sectors have found the meager allowance as objectionable.

    “We apologize if many are unimpressed with the P500 daily allowance we will be providing to health care workers,” she said, adding the amount is based on the rate they gave to volunteer workers in previous outbreak responses.

    She also said majority of the DOH budget has been allocated for  personal protective equipment of health workers.

    Vergeire, however, said they are hopeful they could increase the allowance of the volunteers once the supplemental budget from Congress comes in.

    “We are already fixing the budget allocation for the most important items, such as compensation to health workers, PPE purchase, and fixing our health facilities,” said Vergeire.

    Earlier, labor groups assailed the DOH for the meager allowance for volunteer health workers saying it falls below the minimum wage rate in the National Capital Region of P537 per day.