MANILA – A ranking government official said on Friday the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and other efforts to mitigate the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is on track.
"Despite the day-to-day challenges we continue to confront at the National Task Force, our work has proceeded as scheduled," said Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 chief implementer and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, during a virtual press briefing.
The efforts include the repurposing of some establishments into quarantine facilities for the Covid-19 patients, as well as the persons under monitoring (PUMs) and patients under investigation (PUIs) with the virus.
Based on the task force's timetable, he said, the converted facilities are set to be operational and functional in the next 10 days.
The government is already preparing the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), World Trade Center, and Cultural Center of the Philippines—to be used as 'isolation facilities' for the PUIs and PUMs.
He said, however, the Rizal Memorial Coliseum isolation facility might already be functional on Monday, April 6.
The government, he added, is also eyeing the Philippine Arena, Quezon Institute, the Philippine Sports Complex, Duty-Free Philippines in Parañaque, Amoranto Sports Complex, Quezon City Memorial Complex, and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center Complex as possible "treatment areas" for patients who contracted the deadly virus.
He said, once the conversion of the PICC and the World Trade Center into "quarantine areas" is completed, the military doctors and nurses will be deployed in the facilities "to ensure the safety and security of patients admitted in there."
"The purpose of setting up mass quarantine areas is to ease the load on our hospitals. Those who are non-critical cases can be transferred to identified quarantine areas," he said.
Covid-19 tests for PUIs, PUMs
"We are in a race against time, as we try our best to flatten the curve and slow down the spread of the disease," he said, noting the task force's focus now "is to ramp up the capability of the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct mass testing for the Covid-19 front-liners, PIUs, and the PUMs."
He said the country's PUMs and PUIs are already numbering between 3,000-6,000.
The mass testing, he said, will help the government to efficiently identify, isolate, and treat those patients who have tested positive for the disease as early as possible.
"Our goal is to conduct mass testing, starting with the PUIs and PUMs (so) that we can take out all Covid-19 positive patients from their communities and bring them to designated hospitals," he said.
He added that the country's capacity to conduct Covid-19 testing has "significantly improved" as the government targets "to do around 3,000 tests per day."
"But we also have to ensure the safety of patients as well as medical personnel when we carry out these tests. We are also pleased to report to you that we have now increased the number of our testing centers to nine," he said.
The additional testing facilities include Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, San Lazaro Hospital, UP National Institutes for Health, Lung Center of the Philippines, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Benguet, Western Visayas Medical Center in Ilo-Ilo City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, & Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
"It is worth noting that the number of Covid-19 cases has gone down since the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine. The RITM also reported that as of April 1, 73 percent of Covid-19 samples have tested negative for the disease," said Galvez.
Other assistance, efforts
Galvez said the Social Amelioration Program is already rolling out among 4Ps beneficiaries.
"The 4Ps beneficiaries were the first to receive of this financial assistance because they already have data in the DSWD," he said.
He said those with low-income households and not yet a member of the Department of Social Welfare and Development's 4Ps, but “badly affected” by the Covid-19 crisis can also receive emergency support from the government for two months based on the regional minimum wage.
The financial aid, he said, will be sourced from the PHP275 billion fund under Republic Act No. 11469 or the 'Bayanihan We Heal as One Act.'
Meanwhile, the first batch of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies procured from China have already been distributed to several hospitals in Luzon.
About 12,000 PPE sets have been given to those health facilities that are running low with personal protective gear, he said.
The hospital includes Philippine General Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, Jose E. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Heart Center, and V.Luna Hospital.
Galvez urged the public to stay calm amid the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine, as the government is doubling its efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 in the country.
"I am appealing to my fellow Filipinos to have some discipline, stay at home and follow the government's regulations," he said.
"We are doing everything to fight this battle against the Covid-19. We can do more if we are going to unite, work together with our private sector partners. We can do it, we can heal as one," he said. (PNA)