DOH on N. Vizcaya event: No breach
TUGUEGARAO CITY—An official of the Department of Health (DOH) said health protocols were strictly followed when the agency held a five-day in-person training of health workers in Nueva Vizcaya province last month.The training, which gathered 60 health workers at a private hotel in Solano town and included a movie premiere gala, had led to infections among its participants.“We are from the DOH, we know the protocols that we have to strictly follow. Those activities are well-planned and all the safety precautions were followed,” Dr. Rio Magpantay, director of the DOH in Cagayan Valley, told the Inquirer in a recent phone interview.
He said tracing and isolation of primary contacts were immediately done after a participant tested positive for COVID-19.In a separate statement on April 18, the regional office of the DOH said it “prioritized the safety of the participants.”
“[We] strictly followed protocols and took necessary precautions before and during the said training. Organizers were quickly able to identify possible cases,” it said.Two participants had tested positive for COVID-19 in antigen tests, which prompted organizers to cut the training short.But sources from the DOH criticized the organizers for pushing through with the in-person training despite prohibitions on mass gathering.
The training was attended by newly hired doctors and DOH development management officers from the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino, and Santiago City.“While they [organizers] claim that they [followed] IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) rules, they should have sought the clearance of the local government. Since Solano town was then considered high-risk, why conduct the activity there?” one of the sources asked.The source also dismissed DOH claims that the in-person training was needed to let participants craft their disaster risk reduction and management on health (DRRMH) plan.
“It is not the DMOs [development management officers] who prepare DRRMH plans, but the [local governments] with all their stakeholders, because that is part of their domain, not the DOH,” the source said.
The training would have been justifiable if it included all those involved in the process, the source added.
“What do some of the participant doctors know about DRRMH planning when they have not even reported for work? The lecture sessions itself will give the reasons why lectures should be done virtually,” the source said. —VILLAMOR VISAYA JR. AND MELVIN GASCON INQ
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