Sara Duterte cuts use of 911 emergency hotline for COVID-19 calls, forms center with new numbers
DAVAO CITY—Mayor Sara Duterte ceased the use of the hotline 911 for COVID-19-related calls, migrating these to an operation center with at least three new hotlines and appealing to people not to clog up the 911 hotline with calls about suspected COVID-19 cases.
She said COVID-19-related calls were overwhelming the “thin” staff of the 911 emergency hotline system.
“Although we have this pandemic,” Duterte said, “we still experience other emergency situations not related to COVID-19.”
She said the city’s central 911 system is “dedicated for emergency purposes only” and not questions about whether a sneeze, cough or colds meant infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
She expressed frustration that people kept ignoring her appeal not to call 911 if they suspect themselves to be infected.
The mayor, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, had assigned COVID-19 cases to an operation center which would be open 24 hours a day and can be reached through these hotlines—09175086548, 09190711111, 0822440181 or email address [email protected]
She said she activated the center to “answer all your questions about COVID-19.”
People with COVID-19 symptoms, like colds, cough, fever, chills, headaches, shortness of breath and sore throat, should report to the center, said the mayor.
She said city health workers on standby in the center would give instructions about what to do in COVID-19 cases.
“The goal is to prevent people from rushing to the different centers and hospitals, which could increase the risk of community transmission,” she said.
The mayor said every time people call 911 for COVID-19 queries, “you are barring much more important calls for other emergencies and disasters.”
She also reiterated a directive against the use of 911 ambulances to transport suspected COVID-19 patients to hospitals because the city government already has vehicles assigned for that purpose.
The mayor had earlier asked the people of Davao to call 911 for consultations on COVID-19. The objective, she said, was to keep people at home instead of rushing to hospitals or clinics.
Some doctors in the city have volunteered to help provide free check ups and consultations over the phone.
“If you are not experiencing any alarming or critical manifestations, then you are advised not to go to the hospital,” an earlier statement by the city government said.
“Instead, you may consult the doctors by just dialing 911 in your landlines and cellphones,” the statement read.
But the mayor’s new directive changed the arrangement. People had been advised not to call 911 anymore for COVID-19 concerns.
Edited by TSB
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