Duque says enough ambulances, as mass transpo shuts down in Luzon

Bea Cupin
Duque says enough ambulances, as mass transpo shuts down in Luzon

Rappler.com

The national government also wants local government units to set up isolation units outside hospitals for patients who have mild to no symptoms of COVID-19

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ health secretary said on Monday, March 16, that there are enough ambulances in hospitals to respond to medical emergencies as mass transportation in Luzon is shut down during an island-wide quarantine.

The national government placed Luzon under an “enhanced community quarantine” as the country’s cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, continue to rise. At least 140 cases have been recorded in the Philippines, with 12 deaths.

Oo naman. Lahat naman ng ating ospital ay may ambulansiya. Maraming-marami ang ambulansiya ng Red Cross, so we complement our ambulance capacity with that of the Red Cross,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday evening, during an Inter-Agency Task Force briefing on the Luzon quarantine.

(Of course. All our hospitals have ambulances. The Red Cross has many so we complement our ambulance capacity with that of the Red Cross.)

Wala naman dahil gaya ng sinabi ko mayroon naman tayong sapat na ambulance service (There’s no reason to worry because as I said, we have enough ambulances),” he added, when pressed.

Concerns over the availability of ambulances rose after it was announced that all forms of mass transportation would be suspended during the quarantine period. The suspension covers jeepneys, buses, public utility vehicles, sedan-hailing services, and motorycle taxis, to name a few.

Private vehicles are allowed to move around Luzon, but only for “basic necessities” which include buying supplies from groceries, markets, drug stores, or takeout food establishments, among others. 

Isolation areas

While the possible “operationalization” of the Lung Center of the Philippines as a “COVID-19 hospital” has yet to be studied, national government wants local government units (LGUs) to set up isolation units outside hospitals for patients with mild to no symptoms of the disease.

“LGUs should identify isolation units – this could be a private house, a building, a condominium for patients who are asymptomatic or [have] mild symptoms. The LGU can accommodate that patient, place him or her in the isolation unit so that hospitals can concentrate on patients with serious symptoms,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a mix of English and Filipino during the same briefing.

The island-wide quarantine is the national government’s latest move to address the rising cases of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines. Metro Manila, the Philippine’s capital region, had earlier been placed under a “community quarantine,” but officials later realized the porous checkpoints were not enough.

As of Monday, there are 140 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines, although that number is thought of to be relatively low because testing is not as widespread as in other countries.

Thousands of rapid test kits are reportedly on their way to the Philippines.

The global death toll, meanwhile, has reached 6,501, with 3,213 of the fatalities in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau). The number of cases worldwide has risen to 168,250, with more than 80,860 of the infections in China. The virus has spread to at least 142 countries. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.