MANILA, Philippines – The chief of the Makati Medical Center (MMC) did not mince words against Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who accompanied his pregnant wife to the hospital when he was already exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
On Wednesday, March 25, MMC medical director Dr Saturnino Javier released a strongly worded statement denouncing the "irresponsible and reckless" behavior of Pimentel, who found out he tested positive for COVID-19 while he was at the hospital.
"We denounce the irresponsible and reckless action of the senator. He added to the burden of a hospital trying to respond in its most competent and aggressive manner to cope with the daunting challenges of this COVID-19 outbreak," Javier said.
Stopping short of calling Pimentel a hypocrite, the MMC chief said the administration-allied senator's past statements urging the public to follow the national government's lockdown rules were "nothing but empty rhetoric."
"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 of those," Javier said.
Senator Aquilino Martin Pimentel III breached MakatiMed hospital infection control protocols. https://t.co/uPUVIF25Pb "> pic.twitter.com/uPUVIF25Pb — Makati Medical Center (@IamMakatiMed) https://twitter.com/IamMakatiMed/status/1242754139060203526?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw ">March 25, 2020 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js " charset=“utf-8”>
Pimentel said he started experiencing flu-like symptoms as early as March 14 and decided to isolate himself in a different room from his wife, Kathryna. This was just days after it was confirmed that a resource person in a March 11 Senate hearing had contracted COVID-19.
By March 18, Pimentel already had sore throat and fever of about 38°C.
The president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan then had his swabs taken for a COVID-19 test on March 20.
But instead of staying home since he was under quarantine already, Pimentel went with his wife to MMC on Tuesday, March 24, as she was due to give birth on Wednesday. (READ: TIMELINE: When Pimentel tested positive for coronavirus)
Javier said they had to decontaminate and disinfect the MMC Delivery Room Complex because the Pimentel couple entered the premises, possibly infecting the already overstretched medical professionals there.
Javier said some of the health workers may now have to undergo quarantine "which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital."
"By his actions, he contributed no solution. In fact, he created another problem – for Makati Medical Center, the very institution which embraced his wife for obstetric care," Javier said.
MMC had to postpone the scheduled delivery of the Pimentels' baby at 7 am on Wednesday because Kathryna had to get a swab test done first.
To date, the Philippines has tallied a total of 636 coronavirus cases, 38 of which were fatal. So far, 26 patients have already recovered.