The doctors are in but not for long, as the Philippine College of Physicians, a group of medical practitioners in the country, calls for “time out” through the reimposition of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila for two weeks from Aug. 1 to 15 to “refine our pandemic control strategies, address urgent problems.”
A letter was formalized and submitted today to the office of President Rodrigo Duterte addressing him along with National Taskforce for COVID-19 chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III via a Zoom webinar, where almost 80 medical societies supported the call.
Citing rising number of confirmed COVID-19 patients among their ranks, members of the Philippine College of Physicians said “Our healthcare workers are falling ill as they take care of patients, responding to the call of duty while battling the fear and anxiety COVID-19 brings.”
According to the petition, two major hospitals have been closed down in Manila City alone —Ospital ng Maynila and Dr. Fabella Memorial Hospital—as “our healthcare workers are burnt out with the seemingly endless number of patients trooping to our hospitals for emergency care and admission.”[READ: Hospitals around the country are now at the “warning zone” level]
The petition listed down problems that need urgent attention: hospital workforce deficiency, failure in case finding, isolation and contact tracing, transportation and workplace safety, public compliance in terms of self-protection and social amelioration.
The plea of medical groups to put Metro Manila back under ECQ is falling on deaf ears, at least in the case of the DTI, w/c recommends which businesses should be reopened.
DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez even questioned if hospitals are really overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.| @roycanivel_inq pic.twitter.com/gqlneZnFXj
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) August 1, 2020
Doctors are also petitioning the government to reconsider the Department of Trade and Industry’s announcement to allow gyms, fitness centers, tutorial services, review centers, internet cafes, pet grooming services and drive-in cinemas starting Aug. 1.
“We understand that imposing an enhanced community quarantine is a complex decision. Though health may be just one dimension, let us remember that we need healthy people to reinvigorate our economy,” the statement read.
“The current crisis necessitates putting prime importance on effective solutions addressing the health problems at hand. The proposed solutions can have far-reaching effects once implemented. The health sector cannot hold the line for much longer.”
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque after turning down the petition said “We are scaling up hospital capacity by increasing allocation of COVID-dedicated beds while hiring more doctors, nurses, and medical-personnel.”
He added that “the strict lockdown in Metro Manila has served its purpose, and we need to intensify other strategies” like localized lockdowns being implemented by local governments in Metro Manila.
“We welcome comments of various stakeholders and we will include them in future IATF meetings,”
As of writing, there are now over 85,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country with 1,962 deaths and 26,996 recoveries.
Header photo courtesy of Marianne Bermudez/Inquirer
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE