BY GERARD NAVAL and JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR
MORE than 200 new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were reported on Wednesday by the Department of Health, bringing the country’s total to over 2,311.
Aside from the 227 new cases, there were also eight new fatalities, or a total now of 96, and one recovery (total 50).
The eight new fatalities are Filipinos. Six of them are male. Four had no travel history while the other four have unknown travel history.
The lone patient is a 59-year-old Filipino male who has no travel history.
COVID-19, which originated in China, has spread to 206 countries and has infected more than 851,000 and killed at least 42,000 as of Wednesday.
Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementor of the National Action Plan (NAP) against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), emphasized a need to “detect” and “isolate” people who are positive for the disease as well as those being investigated and awaiting results of tests, as part of government’s efforts to contain the spread of the disease.
Galvez, in a statement, said those who are found positive will be isolated and given treatment while persons under investigations (PUIs) will also be isolated pending the results of their tests.
He said this is part of the “detect-isolate-treat” methodology which he said is “not a military solution as some describe it but rather a medical solution wherein our goal is to provide life-saving health services to people as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Galvez is a former chief of the Armed Forces.
“An infected person becomes a threat to the general public when he or she is mobile and not isolated, and becomes a carrier of the disease,” he added.
Under the “detect-isolate-treat” scheme, he said, patients infected with COVID-19 are detected through the conduct of massive testing of PUIs and persons under monitoring (PUMs), and through contact tracing. Government then isolates those found positive and provides them treatment in hospitals while PUIs are isolated and placed under strict home quarantine or a in dedicated quarantine facility.
“LGUs should find innovative ways by combining the strategy of selective and total lockdown, massive testing, designation of appropriate ‘forced quarantine’ facilities for PUIs and PUMs, effective implementation of social distancing and home quarantine, and protection and segregation of the seniors, vulnerable sector and urban poor,” Galvez added.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, concurrent spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the priority of government is to provide hospital treatment for those found positive for COVID, particularly those who are classified to have severe, critical or moderate levels of coronavirus.
Nograles said those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 could undergo treatment in a converted quarantine facility. PUIs will stay in separate converted quarantine facilities while PUMs can go on self quarantine at home.
He said it is important to isolate even the PUIs and PUMs even at an early stage in case they later become positive for the virus.
Nograles reiterated government will be using the Philippine International Convention Center and World Trade Center in Pasay City, and the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila, among others, as additional quarantine facilities to accommodate the PUIS and PUMs.
He also reiterated the Department of Transportation is already looking for maritime vessels that can be converted into a “floating” quarantine facility while the Department of Tourism is looking for hotels and similar establishments which can be used by government as regional quarantine facilities.
Nograles and Galvez reassured the Filipino people that the government is doing everything possible to prevent and mitigate the effects of the disease.
“But this will require the full cooperation and support of all members of the community. This is unprecedented. Even powerful countries with modern science like the US, China, Japan and Italy were caught unprepared,” Galvez said.
Three more policemen tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 10.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said two of the policemen are from Metro Manila while the third is from Northern Luzon.
Banac also said the number of PUI-policemen increased to 152 from 145 as of Tuesday, and PUMs to 1,416 from 1,422.
The PNP has converted its Kiangan Billeting Center in Camp Crame to house policemen who are PUIs and PUMs.
The National Capital Region has also earmarked three buildings in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to house police on quarantine. The Manila and Northern police districts have also put up facilities as quarantine facilities for their personnel.
“Likewise, other Police Regional Police Offices will set up their own quarantine areas or facilities intended for their police personnel who also undergo self-quarantine due to pandemic,” said Banac.