DOH sends more equipment, sets additional budget for manpower to help Visayas, Mindanao amid pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 10)— The Department of Health has deployed more equipment to areas in the Visayas and Mindanao, and has earmarked an additional budget for manpower to help the regions cope with rising COVID-19 cases, an official said Thursday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH has been sending assistance — including for expanding testing and healthcare capacity — to the Visayas and Mindanao for the past weeks.

“We have sent mechanical ventilators, we have sent testing kits, additional,” Vergeire told News Night. “And also, we were able to assist them into expanding their hospital capacity... So the assistance is there.”

According to Vergeire, regions in Visayas and Mindanao were able to expand their intensive care unit capacity with an additional 365 beds. Meanwhile, the DOH has provided 957 more isolation and ward beds, she said.

Aside from these, Vergeire said the DOH is also ready to provide additional manpower — with emergency hiring for healthcare personnel underway.

“The Department of Health is here to support and provide additional resources, even manpower, we already have that additional budget for them, and then emergency hiring is being undertaken,” Vergeire said.

Independent research group OCTA on Wednesday flagged Davao City and Western Visayas as among the new COVID-19 “epicenters” in the country.

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David, in an earlier interview with CNN Philippines, described the situation in Western Visayas as a "serious concern” due to its high healthcare utilization rate.