MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered hospitals to accept all patients, including those suspected of being infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Duterte made the statement following reports of a patient in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija who died after being rejected by six hospitals.

“Lahat na magkasakit (All those who get sick), heart attack, appendicitis, pumutok ang kung anong puputok diyan, pumutok ‘yung utak (ruptured brain), especially government hospital, my order is: must accept admission,” he said.

The President said hospitals that refuse to accept patients may face suspension.

“You fail on that, I will relieve all of you sa (at the) hospital and you can consider yourself suspended because the written order will follow,” he said.

Duterte said he would also ask the Department of Justice to prosecute hospital officials who reject patients.

As of Monday, there were 4,932 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 315 deaths.

The state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will pay for the medical expenses of health workers and hospitalized persons under monitoring and patients under investigation (PUMs/PUIs) for Covid-19.

PhilHealth, however, will not cover self-administered tests since these did not undergo the required laboratory procedure in hospitals, clinics, and certified testing centers identified by the Department of Health.

No discrimination

Meanwhile, Duterte also ordered the Philippine National Police to arrest persons committing discriminatory acts against health workers on the front line against Covid-19.

“I’d like to order the police. If there’s a report of somebody harassing or facing a discriminatory act, you arrest the person. Huwag mong bitawan hanggang hindi ko sinabi na bitawan (Don’t let them go until I say, ‘Let them go,’)” he said.

Duterte reminded the public that health workers should not be discriminated against because they are the ones who take care of the sick.

“Pag tinamaan kayo ng (Covid-19), didiretso kayo sa ospital pagka grabe na kayo. Sinong nagsusugal ng buhay nila doon? ‘Yung mga doctor, pati ‘yung health workers (If you get infected with Covid-19, you’ll go straight to the hospital. Who will risk their lives there? Doctors and health workers),” he said.

Duterte also encouraged health workers to seek assistance from the police in reaching their destination since mass transport is suspended under the quarantine measures.

“If you feel tired or just want to go easy, you flag down any police, military or police and my order is this: Give them a lift. Tumulong kayo sa kapwa tao natin (Help our fellow citizens),” he said.

Last week, Cabinet Secretary and IATF spokesperson Karlo Nograles said discriminatory acts include “coercion, libel, slander, physical injuries, and the dishonor of contractual obligations, such as contracts of lease or employment.”

Violators will be slapped with criminal, civil, and administrative charges, he added. (PNA)

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