DOH chief grilled for slow contact tracing of nCov patient's co-passengers
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told the Senate that only 17% of the 331 co-passengers of the Chinese couple who tested positive for the novel coronavirus have been contacted.
The STAR/Mong Pintolo
DOH chief grilled for slow contact tracing of nCov patient's co-passengers
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - February 4, 2020 - 3:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — Senators criticized the leadership of the Department of Health for failing to contact the rest of the co-passengers of a Chinese couple confirmed to have the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease or 2019-nCoV ARD.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told the Senate hearing that only 17% of the 331 airplane passengers who interacted with the nCoV carriers have been contacted.

Duque claimed that Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are not sharing the contact details of the passengers due to confidentiality.

Philippine Airlines denied the claims of Duque that it refuses to give the names of the passengers.

PAL Vice President for Security Gen. Cesar Ronnie Ordoyo told the Senate panel that in tandem with Cebu Pacific, the airlines have given the passenger lists to the Bureau of Epidemiology.

"As a matter of fact, we have given them the list as required because as per protocol, it would be the Bureau of Quarantine who should be following this up," Ordoyo told the Senate panel.

When asked who is in charge of contact tracing, Duque pointed his finger at DOH epidemiology bureau Ferchito Avelino for supposed lack of transparency.

"I don't know the steps, the specific measures of how this should be done and I hope that you give me a chance to look into this and I'll have it investigated," Duque told the Senate panel.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, meanwhile, suggested that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Civil Aeronautics Board should be in charge of contact tracing.

"What we have here is a glaring example of a failure to communicate," Tugade told the Senate panel.

Tugade added that the DOH does not have ascendancy nor power to force compliance among airlines to conduct contact tracing.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, blamed the DOH leadership for the low rate of contacted co-passengers of the nCoV patients in the Philippines.

"I beg to disagree that the secretary of Health is pointing his finger at his underling when there is only 17% of those passengers have been contacted since this issue erupted," Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan said the issue was not just a mere failure of communication but a failure of leadership on the Health department.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson agreed with Pangilinan's sentiments, pointing out that it should have been the initiative of the DOH to contact the passengers.

"What we have here, as Sen. Pangilinan mentioned, is a failure of leadership... The DOH should be on top of the situation, not the CAAP, not the [Bureau of Immigration], or the [Department of Transportation] but the DOH," Lacson said.

Lacson stressed that the DOH should not be blaming other agencies as the 2019-nCoV threat is a health issue.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 27, 2020 - 5:24pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

September 27, 2020 - 5:24pm

An overnight curfew in Australia's second-largest city will be lifted this week, officials said Sunday, even as the global coronavirus toll inched towards one million dead.

Despite the number of infections worldwide passing 32 million — with the US state of New York reporting a fresh spike — more than 10,000 anti-lockdown protesters demonstrated in central London ahead of the re-imposition of restrictions there.

In more positive news, residents of the Chinese city of Wuhan — where the virus emerged last year — reported a hesitant return to normalcy, while the French Open got underway at Roland Garros in Paris.

In Australia, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Melbourne residents would be free from Monday to leave their homes for work, exercise, shop for essentials, or provide care after active cases in the state fell below 400 for the first time since June 30.

The relaxation of the curfew, imposed August 2, comes after 16 new infections and two deaths were reported Sunday. — AFP

September 27, 2020 - 9:26am

France will face a months-long coronavirus epidemic that will overwhelm its health system if something does not change, one of the country's top medical figures warns Sunday.

"The second wave is arriving faster than we thought," Patrick Bouet, head of the National Council of the Order of Doctors, tells the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

Fresh restrictions to slow the spread of the disease in the country's worst-hit areas, including the Mediterranean city of Marseille and the Paris region, have run into local resistance.

Bouet told the paper that warnings delivered this week by Health Minister Olivier Veran had not gone far enough.

"He didn't say that in three to four weeks, if nothing changes, France will face a widespread outbreak across its whole territory, for several long autumn and winter months," Bouet says. — AFP

September 26, 2020 - 4:13pm


The Philippines surpasses the 300,000-mark, with 2,747 new COVID-19 infections registered on Saturday.

88 individuals died and 787 recovered from the deadly virus.

September 25, 2020 - 4:10pm

The Department of Health reports 2,630 new cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the national tally to 299.361.

69 have succumbed to the deadly virus while 494 have recovered. 

September 25, 2020 - 7:14am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 978,448 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday.

At least 31,975,020 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 21,891,500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

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