MANILA – To increase health and safety protocols for health care workers, the national government is supporting research and development (R&D) to develop sanitizing cubicles for those in the frontlines against the deadly virus.
In his ninth report to Congress on the government’s Covid-19 response, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has approved the funding of a PHP4.70-million R&D project to develop “Sani-Pod”, a self-containing cubicle with air shower meant for sanitizing front-liners as they exit Covid-19 patient wards.
“The technology development is an R&D partnership between medical doctors of the UP Manila and engineers of the UP Diliman,” the report read.
There will be five prototypes initially produced to be used at the UP-Philippine General Hospital.
According to the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), the Sani-Pod uses advanced features such as acrylic walls for easy cleaning and disinfection of external and internal surfaces when placed in highly contagious and dense areas in the hospital.
The sanitization cubicles also have automatic motion sensors to activate the entrance and exit doors, with different disinfectants coupled with UV light and uses a foot sanitation unit to disinfect the undersurface of shoes.
This decreases contact with the surfaces of the cubicle, leading to lesser chances of microbes staying on the surfaces.
DOST-PCHRD said the Sani-Pod would ensure that medical personnel are given an extra layer of protection from Covid-19 as they are more efficient than the existing sanitation tents in terms of disinfection.
It can also provide psychological assurance to health care workers, and a means of disinfection for Filipinos in crowded areas, the agency said.
More than 100 units are expected to be distributed to various hospitals after development, it added.
The DOST also approved the establishment of a testing facility at the DOST Electronics Product Development Center for ventilator prototypes, which will include a breathing simulator acting like an artificial lung, with sensors and recorders to simulate different lung conditions.
The facility will also house the development of other ventilator prototype projects with funding support from DOST.
In the same weekly report, Duterte gave updates on the government’s efforts to enhance the country’s health facilities and resources against the pandemic.
As of May 20, the Department of Health (DOH) has approved 6,546 slots for emergency hiring in 184 health facilities, Out of this number, 2,536 persons have been hired with a total of 1,159 or 45.70 percent to be assigned in Metro Manila.
The government is also increasing the country’s capacity to handle Covid-19 cases with 1,905 Covid-19 referral and accepting hospitals across the country, with 24 designated DOH Covid-19-referral hospitals and 50 other DOH accepting hospitals as of May 21.
There are 3,368 temporary treatment and monitoring facilities for Covid-19 related cases across the country with a total bed capacity of 42,798.
The Bureau of Quarantine is manning a total of 70 quarantine facilities catering to 11,109 repatriates as of May 20.
There are 33,726 repatriates from 422 repatriate vessels of which 28,570 or 85 percent have completed their respective quarantine, while the rest are still in quarantine.
Of the 12,655 land-based repatriates, 4,144 or 33 percent have completed their respective quarantine and the rest are still in quarantine as of May 19.
On test kits, testing centers, and expanded testing, a total of 259, 172 tests have been conducted on 239,739 individuals with an average daily testing output of 9,096 tests as of May 20.
There are 37 active testing laboratories after the DOH accredited three more laboratories.
The DOH facilitated the creation of mega swabbing sites to ramp up and widen access to testing.
Twenty-four hospitals are currently participating in the World Health Organization solidarity trials, an international clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a possible vaccine for Covid-19.
Detection and isolation are also being enhanced by contact tracing. As of May, a total of 63,306 close contacts have been traced, corresponding to an increase of 3,720 contacts traced from May 14. (ia/PNA)