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
(Philstar.com) - 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

AQUILINO PIMENTEL III MAKATI MEDICAL CENTER NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 4, 2020 - 4:09pm

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

April 4, 2020 - 4:09pm

The Department of Health reports 76 more local cases of the coronavirus disease 2019, bringing the official tally to 3,094 from the previous count of 3,018.

April 3, 2020 - 12:58pm

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. assures the public that they will shoulder the full cost of treatment for all COVID-19 patients until April 14, 2020.

"The reason for this accommodation window is due to the novelty and the wide range of severity of the disease in the country for which no existing case rate or package based on accepted protocols has yet been established," it says in a statement.

Philhealth says they will issue a new set of guidelines after the final protocol is established.

April 3, 2020 - 10:22am

The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution calling for "international cooperation" and "multilateralism" in the fight against COVID-19, in the first text to come out of the international body since the pandemic's outbreak.

The resolution, which was approved by consensus, also stresses "the need for full respect for human rights" and that "there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic." — AFP

April 3, 2020 - 8:04am

The cruise ship Zaandam, which has dozens of ill passengers on board and was not allowed to dock in several South American countries, arrivsd Thursday in port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The liner was finally cleared for docking after long negotiations between Holland America Line, local and state officials, and the US Coast Guard, to ensure the safe disembarkation of the healthy — and the sick. — AFP

April 2, 2020 - 5:02pm

The Department of Health confirms 11 COVID-19 patients have died in the Philippines, raising the total number of fatalities to 107.

The Philippines also recorded 322 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 2,633.

As of Thursday afternoon, one additional patient recovered from the deadly virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 51.

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