DOH OIC Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire clarified the crucial roles of the Punong Barangays (PBs), Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), the Barangay Health Response Teams (BHERTs), and Barangay Tanods as the first line of defense against COVID-19 during the 13th L!STONG Ugnayan, COVID-19 ay Labanan Online Talakayan.
Usec. Vergeire commenced her discussion emphasizing the need to adapt to the “new normal” which can be done effectively through the national government’s people-centered, enabling policies and strategies. These mechanisms are then passed on to the local government units (LGUs) for implementation given their respective situation and context.
“Napaka-importante ng mga LGUs dahil sila ang nagpapatupad sa baba ng lahat ng policies mula sa national government. Ang pag-flatten ng curve ay para hindi tapusin ang pandemya, kundi para makapaghanda tayo at maihanda ang ating health systems kaya may new normal”, she added.
During the 2-hour session, the Undersecretary identified the COVID-19 strategies based on priority: 1) prevention; 2) tracing and monitoring; 3) quarantine; 4) RT-PCR testing and isolation; and 5) case management. She also reiterated that the transmission of the virus is through droplets and not airborne.
According to Usec. Vergeire, the common symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, dry cough, fatigue, aches, sore throat, and nasal congestion while severe symptoms include breathing difficulties and mental state changes. She added that there are those who are asymptomatic, meaning with no signs but are considered as carriers. “Wala pong sinisino ang COVID-19, wala po itong pinipiling edad”, she said.
Previously, COVID-19 individuals were classified into two categories: 1) Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs) – without symptoms but with exposure; and 2) Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) – with symptoms and exposure. Usec. Vergeire mentioned that individuals are now classified into 1) suspect – with symptoms and exposure but is yet to be tested or is awaiting test results; 2) probable – suspect case with results cannot be determined by the laboratory; and 3) confirmed – positive test results.
USec. Vergeire reminded the barangay officials that these individuals must be placed under the isolation units set up by their respective barangays manned by medical personnel and BHWs, along with the barangay tanods in creating a secured and peaceful environment.
“Hindi natin kailangan intayin ang resulta para gumawa ng aksyon, kailangan natin mag-isolate kaagad para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng virus”, she emphasized.
Moreover, DOH OIC Usec. Vergeire stressed that the services and operations of health centers for non-COVID patients such as the provision of vaccines and vitamins should not be hampered because COVID-19 is not the only illness we face today. Additionally, she encouraged the use of the telemedicine scheme (e.g. consultation through phone calls) to avoid personal interaction at this time of public health emergency.
In summary, the DOH urged the barangays to set up a communication line with trained health workers that is open 24/7 to assist residents with their concerns, to support operations of the LIGTAS COVID-19 centers, to maximize information dissemination activities, to connect with hospitals for referral networks, to sustain the operation of the BHERTS and to facilitate reintegration of COVID-19 patients in the community.
She also called on the youth to help create and disseminate information materials and promote productivity as helpful acts to the government in the fight against COVID-19. “Through caring for our families and following the rules, we are also caring for the communities and the whole country”, she concluded.
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