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SBMA health unit suspends face-to-face operations
Aug 29, 2021

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has suspended all face-to-face operations at its medical dispensary and satellite emergency unit at the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) due to lack of personnel necessary for normal operations.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said this was because 13 frontline health workers of the agency recently tested positive for Covid-19 and had to be on quarantine for 14 days.

Eisma said in a public advisory issued on Saturday that health services dispensed to Subic Freeport stakeholders will temporarily consist of consultations through videoconferencing or telemedicine in place of face-to-face engagement.

However, the agency will continue to provide emergency medical services (EMS) in the next two weeks that the infected personnel undergo mandatory quarantine and treatment, she added.

The SBMA had similarly resorted to telemedicine to attend to Subic stakeholders when a community lockdown was ordered last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the SBMA Public Health and Safety Department (PHSD), two of its staff tested positive of Covid-19 last week, followed by one volunteer doctor in the DOH-SBMA vaccination program.

As contact-tracing indicated multiple exposures among the staff, all PHSD personnel were then subjected to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test from August 24 to 26, thus confirming 10 positive cases at the dispensary and three positives at the SBIA emergency unit. All were asymptomatic and placed on quarantine.

PHSD manager Dr. Solomon Jacalne said all the department personnel had been fully vaccinated, but the so-called “breakthrough infection” may still happen because of heavy viral load that health workers are often exposed to.

“It could also be that there was weak immune response to the vaccine they had, or that they were exposed to a stronger virus variant. Remember that Covid-19 vaccines don’t protect you from getting the virus, but it lessens the severity of the effects of the virus,” Jacalne added.

In view of this, Eisma also ordered the PHSD to temporarily stop the vaccine rollout project with the Department of Health while personnel were recuperating, and charged the SBMA Fire Department to provide back-up in case of calls for emergency medical services (EMS) response.

Eisma added that the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at the Subic Bay International Airport will continue, as there is enough staff to cover EMS response in the area.

Normal operations at the Dispensary and SBIA unit are expected to resume on September 10 upon completion by health frontliners of the mandatory quarantine, she also said.

Still, the SBVMA chief urged Subic stakeholders to always maintain health safety protocols in face of rising Covid-19 cases in the country.

“Let us not be complacent, even if we have already been vaccinated. Let us stay at home and avoid going out when it’s not necessary, and most of all wear masks and shields, and always sanitize because these help keep the virus at bay,” Eisma added.


News 2021

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