Koko Pimentel under fire for violating quarantine protocols

    169

    BY GERARD NAVAL and RAYMOND AFRICA

    THE Makati Medical Center (MMC) on Wednesday slammed Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III for violating infection and home quarantine protocols when he accompanied his wife to the hospital on Tuesday night.

    Dr. Saturnino Javier, MMC medical director, said Pimentel put to risk a lot of people, including health workers, particularly those in their delivery room complex.

    “By being in MMC, Senator Pimentel violated his home quarantine protocol, entered the premises of the MMC-DR, thus, unduly exposing health care workers to possible infection,” said Javier.

    “We denounce the irresponsible and reckless action of the senator… By his actions, he contributed no solution. In fact, he created another problem for Makati Medical Center,” he added.

    Pimentel said he learned he was positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) only around 9 p.m. of Tuesday when he was already at the MMC. He said had himself tested on March 20 after experiencing throat problems and fever and because he had not been feeling well in the previous days, he followed his doctor’s advice to go on self-quarantine.

    “I was informed late last night March 24, 2020 that I have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The swab was taken last Friday, March 20, 2020. Since the last day of session March 11, 2020 I had already tried my best to limit my movement. I will call (to the best of my ability) those I remember meeting during those crucial days so that I can inform them of my test result,” Pimentel said.

    “I told the OB even before I told my wife. Then I left her in the hospital. I never went inside the delivery room. Since I was already inside then I had to leave. Hence, I had to walk out of the hospital. Walking out po iyon (That was walking out of the hospital), not touring,” Pimentel said.

    It was unfortunate, he said, that he will not be able to attend to his wife, Kathryna, who is scheduled to give birth to their first baby this week. Kathryna was scheduled for delivery via cesarian section Wednesday morning.  The delivery was rescheduled as Kathryna had to be examined if she is fit to deliver their first born.

    Before the MMC’s statement, Pimentel also advised the public to strictly follow government reminders to prevent from being infected with the virus.

    “I also urge all of us to observe the social distancing, enhanced community quarantine measures, washing of hands and personal hygiene being implemented because they are the best strategies to beat this disease at this time. I have faith that together we can overcome these challenging times,” Pimentel said.

    Javier said it is utterly disappointing that an elected senator of the Philippines would be violating established protocols on the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “More than anyone else, Mr. Pimentel, should have realized the ardent desire of every well-meaning Filipino and every dedicated health care Institution to contain the spread of the infection,” he said.

    “His admonition for everyone to observe social distancing, enhanced community quarantine measures, washing of hands, and personal hygiene are nothing but empty rhetoric because he himself violated all those,” Javier added.

    Because of Pimentel’s action, Javier said, a number of their nurses and physicians may need to be quarantined, which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital.

    “The involved health care workers have been duly identified, evaluated, and will be quarantined, if the risk of exposure warrants it. We fervently pray that none of our health care staff will acquire the viral infection,” said Javier.

    In addition, he said, Pimentel’s actions resulted in another delay in their busy operations.

    “The entire delivery room complex will have to undergo decontamination and disinfection before it can be used,” said Javier.

    It should be noted that the Makati City-based hospital just announced on Tuesday that it would no longer accept COVID-19 patients for confinement as it has reached its full capacity.

    The Department of Justice said those who have personal knowledge of the  incident involving Pimentel should file a formal complaint with the department.

    “Any complaint regardless of the identity of the respondent will be objectively evaluated during the appropriate proceedings,” said Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete. — With Ashzel Hachero