Coronavirus-infected Pimentel apologizes to Makati Med for protocol breach

Coronavirus-infected Pimentel apologizes to Makati Med for protocol breach
This Feb. 4, 2020 photo shows Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III wearing a face mask during a Senate hearing on COVID-19.
The STAR / Mong Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 9:03 p.m.) — Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III apologized to Makati Medical Center (MMC) after breaching the hospital's containment protocols.

MMC earlier denounced Pimentel's for violating his home quarantine protocol by entering the hospital premises upon bringing his wife who was about to give birth.

Pimentel, however, insisted that he did not violate quarantine protocols.

"Nobody imposed any quarantine upon me except that to cooperate with the enhanced community quarantine... With or without COVID I do not go around. I'm a home body. It's natural for me to just stay at home," Pimentel said in a telephone interview with ANC's "Headstart" Thursday morning.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, meanwhile, said it was not true that he interceded to help get Pimentel a room at the MMC.

"There is no truth to that," Duque said in an interview with radio dzBB, adding that he was not involved in the case of the senator. The DOH chief also stressed that Pimentel violated the 14-day home quarantine protocol after being exposed to a COVID-19 positive patient in a Senate hearing earlier this month.

According to Pimentel, he and his wife arrived in the hospital between 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. He received a call confirming that he was positive for COVID-19 at around 9 p.m.

The senator said he was already inside the hospital premises when he got the information. Upon receiving the call, Pimentel said he called his wife's doctor and immediately left the hospital.

"I did not intend to breach protocols. But I understand my presence caused anguish to the hardworking frontline health workers present there on whom we all depend," Pimentel said.

Claiming that he never had persistent cough or fever, which are symptoms of the deadly disease, Pimentel said he was simply in the hospital to witness his wife give birth.

"I would like to sincerely and profoundly apologize to the management and staff of the Makati Medical Center for this unfortunate incident," Pimentel said.

"I never intended to do harm to anyone. I am open to communication with the MMC regarding this incident," he added.

MMC Medical Director and Interim Co-CEO doctor Saturnino Javier said at least six doctors have been exposed to Pimentel.

This figure may still increase as the hospital is still determining the second layer of hospital staff who came into close contact with the senator.

"He (Pimentel) 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. More than anyone else, Mr. Pimentel, should have realized the ardent desire of every well-meaning Filipino and every dedicated healthcare institution to contain the spread of the infection,” MMC said in a statement Wednesday night. 

Makati Medical Center in a statement on Thursday thanked the public for its support to the hospital and its healthcare professionals in denouncing Pimentel's breach of quarantine protocols.

It also thanked the Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine College of Physicians for their support and said that it is pleased that Health Secretary Franciso Duque III concurred that Pimentel's visit to the hospital while waiting for the results of his COVID-19 test was a breach of protocol."

The hospital also said that it takes note of Pimentel's apology for the breach. 

Dr. Javier urged the hospital community to move forward and "focus our energis, skills and passion once again toward conquering the virulent pathogen confronting us—COVID 19."

Patricia Lourdes Viray




As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 27, 2022 - 5:44pm

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

September 27, 2022 - 5:44pm

Dozens of people take part in a rare protest in the southern Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen, social media footage shows, after officials announced a snap lockdown over a handful of COVID-19 cases.

The megacity of more than 18 million people reported just 10 infections on Tuesday, but officials have still ordered residents in three districts to stay home as China sticks to its strict zero-Covid policy.

Officials are also under pressure to snuff out outbreaks quickly ahead of a key political meeting in Beijing next month. — AFP

September 20, 2022 - 12:59pm

Hong Kong's leader says he will soon make a decision on further relaxing coronavirus restrictions, as residents and businesses decry quarantine rules that have kept the finance hub cut off for more than two years.

"We will make a decision soon and announce to the public," chief executive John Lee tells reporters. 

"We want to be connected with the different places in the world. We would like to have an orderly opening up," he adds.

Hong Kong has adhered to a version of China's strict zero-Covid rules throughout the pandemic, battering the economy and deepening the city's brain drain as rival business hubs reopen.

It maintains mandatory hotel quarantine for international arrivals -- currently at three days -- widespread masking, business operating limits and bans on more than four people gathering in public. — AFP

September 19, 2022 - 2:37pm

Millions of people in the Chinese megacity of Chengdu emerged Monday from a Covid-19 lockdown that had closed schools, disrupted businesses and forced residents to stay home for over two weeks.

With a population of 21 million, southwest China's Chengdu is the largest Chinese city to shut down since global finance hub Shanghai imposed a strict two-month lockdown in April, leaving many residents scrambling for food.

China is the last major economy welded to a zero-Covid strategy and officials are under pressure to curb virus flare-ups swiftly ahead of a key political meeting in mid-October.

"With the joint efforts of the whole city, the epidemic has been effectively controlled," the Chengdu government said in a statement Sunday.

Government departments, public transport services and companies were able to resume work on Monday, the statement said, after shutting down on September 1. -- AFP

September 14, 2022 - 12:55pm

As the Philippines starts easing its mask wearing mandate, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) says it still encourages the public to wear face masks in open spaces and outdoors.

"MMDA Acting Chairman Engr. Carlo Dimayuga III said that the wearing of face masks protects us not only against the COVID-19 virus but also from pollution," the agency says in a statement.

September 12, 2022 - 1:47pm

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has allowed the voluntary use of face masks in outdoors, non-crowded areas, his Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles says.

“Naglabas po tayo today ng Executive Order No. 3 allowing voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings and reiterating the continued implementation of minimum public health standards during the State of Public Health Emergency relating to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cruz-Angeles says in a Palace briefing.

Cruz-Angeles says the policy covers non-crowded places, but immunocompromised, senior citizens and those who have yet to complete vaccines are strongly encouraged to wear face masks

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