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Private hospitals prepared for nCoV, officials say

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Private hospitals prepared for nCoV, officials say
Members of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) said systems are in place if there is an outbreak of an infectious disease like nCoV.
Ernie Peñaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — Private hospitals yesterday assured the public that they are prepared to handle suspected cases of 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV) amid the rising death toll and infection across the globe.

Members of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) said systems are in place if there is an outbreak of an infectious disease like nCoV.

“We know what to do because we just follow the protocols implemented during SARS outbreak,” PHAPi president Rustico Jimenez told The STAR, referring to the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus which first emerged in Guangdong, China in 2002.

Jimenez noted that there are health workers assigned at the “frontline” to spot possible cases of nCoV.  

“This is done by determining which among patients seeking consultation are manifesting flu-like symptoms like fever, cough, colds and shortness of breath and have history of travel to Hubei, China,” he said. 

“Once they see that you are a possible case, you will immediately be referred to a hospital of the Department of Health (DOH). If that hospital has the capabilitiy to treat and manage cases, then you will be put in isolation there,” he added.

Jimenez said it is a part of the DOH licensing requirement for secondary and tertiary hospitals to have one or two isolation rooms, admitting that only big hospitals have “negative pressure rooms.”  

“These rooms are designed to keep the circulating air inside the room from being released outside to prevent the contagious disease from spreading,” he added. 

Jimenez said health workers assigned to deal with persons under investigation for nCoV are required to wear personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves and robe.  

“If you are tasked to take care of a possible case, you can no longer handle any other patients so you won’t spread the virus, if there is any,” he added.

But Jimenez explained they could handle nCoV “at this point” or when cases are still minimal.

“But when there is already an epidemic, we will be overwhelmed. If we see like hundreds of consultations a day, I don’t think we can handle it.” 

PHAPi has about 900 members nationwide.

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