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

Coronavirus-infected Pimentel apologizes to Makati Med for protocol breach

( - March 26, 2020 - 12:25pm

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: January 23, 2021 - 2:22pm

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

January 23, 2021 - 2:22pm

The World Health Organization says it was too early to draw any conclusions from its mission to Wuhan as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic started in China.

A team of WHO experts arrived in Wuhan on January 14 to start probing the origins of the deadly coronavirus, more than a year after the first cases were detected in the central Chinese city.

They were whisked to a hotel to complete a two-week quarantine. — AFP

January 23, 2021 - 9:15am

Thousands of Hong Kongers are ordered to stay in their homes on Saturday for the city's first coronavirus lockdown as authorities battle an outbreak in one of its poorest and most densely packed districts.

The order bans anyone inside multiple housing blocks within the neighborhood of Jordan from leaving their apartment unless they can show a negative test.

Officials say they planned to test everyone inside the designated zone within 48 hours "in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district". — AFP

January 22, 2021 - 2:09pm

The number of people taking their own lives in Japan rose for the first time in over a decade last year, as the pandemic reversed years of progress combatting a stubbornly high suicide rate.

Japan's health and welfare ministry said Friday that 20,919 people died by suicide in 2020 according to preliminary data, up 3.7 percent from the previous year. That compares with 3,460 deaths from coronavirus in the same period.

It marks the first year-on-year rise in suicides in more than a decade, with women and children in particular taking their lives at higher rates. — AFP

January 21, 2021 - 8:02am

The number of US COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday surpassed the country's toll of military fatalities in World War II, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

As of the evening, the tracker showed that 405,400 people have died from the disease caused by the new coronavirus in the United States.

The total number of combat and non-combat deaths in World War II was 405,399, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The figure is a stark reminder of the pandemic's cost as newly-elected President Joe Biden begins his term. — AFP

January 20, 2021 - 8:52pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 2,058,226 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally from official sources at 1100 GMT on Wednesday.

More than 96,144,670 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

These figures are based on daily tolls provided by health authorities in each country and exclude later re-evaluations by statistical organisations as has happened in Russia, Spain and Britain. —  AFP

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