Don’t refuse patients linked to COVID-19, Duque tells hospitals

Francisco Duque III

WITH ten more confirmed cases in the country, the Department of Health yesterday warned hospitals against refusing patients linked to 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III reminded all Levels 2 and 3 hospitals not to refuse patients suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Refusal to provide care to said patients shall be considered a violation of the signed Performance Commitment and shall be dealt with by the PhilHealth accordingly,” he said.

In line with this, Duque advised the hospitals to designate triage area for screening of suspected COVID-19 patients

He said Levels 2 and 3 hospitals can accommodate COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, adding that COVID-19 patients will only be transferred to DOH’s referral hospitals when their condition turns severe and critical.

The referral hospitals are Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Lung Center of the Philippines, and San Lazaro Hospital.

The health chief also reminded the public not to avoid hospitals attending to COVID-19 patients since certain measures are being observed.

“We assure the public that our hospitals have infectious prevention and control practice in place so there is no need to avoid going to these hospitals especially if you feel unwell,” he said.

Duque also assured the public that the DOH will disclose the names of the hospitals with COVID-19 patient only after coordination with the health facility to avoid fake news.

In a related development, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire denied accusations that the DOH is not being transparent in announcing the real figures on COVID-19 cases, amid the sudden increase in cases.

“Hindi tayo nagtago ng kahit anong information simula umpisa. Naging transparent kami. Nagkataon po na dito sa panahon na ito, lumabas ang mga kaso natin,” she said.

On January 31, the DOH confirmed the first case of COVID-19. On February 2, the second case was reported, and on February 5, the DOH announced the third case. All three were Chinese nationals. One of them died.

This March, DOH confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 infection last Friday, followed by the announcement of the sixth case on Saturday then another four new cases on Sunday. In total, at least 10 COVID-19 cases were reported in the Philippines.