PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said 45 other police officers are listed as persons under investigation (PUI) or those who already have symptoms of the respiratory illness. Among these PUIs is a police colonel.
Edd Gumban / File
2 cops test positive for COVID-19
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Two Philippine National Police officers have so far tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), one of whom is assigned at the PNP Chaplain Service at Camp Crame.

Maj. Duds Raymond Santos, officer-in-charge of the PNP General Hospital, refused to name the police officer and his rank.

A source, however, said the latest victim is a priest regularly officiating mass at Camp Crame.

Santos said the police officer was admitted to St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City in Taguig City early this month after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

The subject was initially in critical condition but has since recovered and was moved out of the hospital’s intensive care unit last Tuesday, according to Santos.

“He was critical a few days ago. Now, he’s no longer on life support,” he said.

All the seven persons assigned at the Chaplain Service, whom the subject came in close contact with, are in good physical condition and have finished their 14-day self-quarantine from March 8 to 22.

Another police officer assigned at the Manila Police District also tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, 615 police officers are listed as persons under monitoring or those who have travel histories and histories of exposure to a COVID-19 patient.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said 45 other police officers are listed as persons under investigation (PUI) or those who already have symptoms of the respiratory illness. Among these PUIs is a police colonel.

Gamboa assured the public that police officers who are maintaining peace and security in the frontlines would be provided with the necessary protection.

“Be assured that I’m doing everything in my power to provide you with all necessary support and resources to ensure your health and safety as you do your job in the best way possible,” he said.

To prevent more personnel from getting infected, police officers who are 50 years old and above are exempted from deployment at security checkpoints.

“We’ve noticed that those who are 50 years old and above are susceptible to the disease,” PNP deputy chief for administration Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan said in a phone interview.

Cascolan added that police officials who are above 50 have been advised to exercise caution when inspecting their troops in the field.

“They should always maintain a safe distance and wear face masks as much as possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PNP has intensified biosafety measures to protect its personnel from COVID-19.

Gamboa ordered more stringent actions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among their ranks such as procurement of more personnel protection equipment for their frontline personnel, continuous contact tracing and self-quarantine.

Policemen returning to their camps from field duty, including those assigned at Camp Crame in Quezon City, must undergo decontamination procedures.

“There is always a probability that any police officer assigned in Luzon may contract the virus while performing his or her assigned duty,” Gamboa said in a statement.

‘Forced by circumstances’

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) had initially declared that it would not admit PUIs because it is dealing with highly immune-compromised patients, most especially transplant patients, but the hospital said it has been forced by circumstances to manage PUIs because the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Lung Center of the Philippines, designated as COVID-19 centers, are also overwhelmed.

“We took it into our hands to innovate and strategize to manage them, not inside the hospital but in tents outside the hospital adjoining the emergency room. What initially was a small triage became a ‘COVID circle’ and now has transformed into a ‘COVID field,’” NKTI executive director Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete said in a statement.

“Currently we have 14 tents of different sizes, and are mounted in our spaces around the (emergency room) and the parking lot. We have hemodialysis tents with eight machines to cater to PUIs who have renal failure, and a mini-(operating room) where vascular accesses are inserted. We have zoning of our patients in cohorts with intubated critical patients ‘isolated’ at our ‘COVID circle.’ The rest are in the tents. With my medical team, our patients are braving the heat of the sun and the threats of the environment,” Liquete added.

COVID-19 DUDS RAYMOND SANTOS
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