MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III is in hot water after violating his home quarantine protocol when he entered Makati Medical Center (MMC) on Tuesday night (March 24) while waiting for the test result for potential coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.
Pimentel was reported to have rushed his pregnant wife to the hospital for delivery.
In a television interview, Pimentel said he considered his home quarantine as a general quarantine and he did not know that he tested positive for coronavirus when they went to the hospital.
“Iyong home quarantine ko is the general quarantine nating lahat, hindi ba? Kung non-essential movement, huwag na tayong gagalaw. Wala naman akong positive test noon. Manganganak ang misis mo. Sa mata ko, this is an essential movement,” Pimentel argued.
(My home quarantine is a general quarantine like everybody else, right? We should not go out if for non-essential movement. I didn’t have a positive result then. My wife is in labor so in my view it was an essential movement.)
The senator explained that they arrived at the hospital at around 6 to 7 in the evening and he only received the call from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) at 9 o’clock in the evening.
“Noong pumunta po akong ospital, wala po akong word o confirmation na ako po ay positive. And then two hours later, nalaman ko, and then tinawagan ko agad doktor, and OB-GYN na in-charge sa wife ko, tinawagan ko siya na ‘ I got this information,’ and umalis agad ako ng ospital,” he added.
[When I went to the hospital, I had no word or confirmation that I am positive. Then two hours later, I was informed by my doctor. I called the OB-GYN who was in charge of my wife and told her I got this information. So I immediately left the hospital.]
However, the MMC says, the senator breached the hospital’s protocol.
In a statement, the hospital accused Pimentel of violating his home quarantine protocol when he entered the delivery room premises as he “unduly exposed healthcare workers to infection.”
The MMC denounced the senator’s action, describing it as “reckless” and “irresponsible”.
“As a result, a number of our nurses and doctors may need to be quarantined which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital. The entire Delivery Room Complex will have to undergo decontamination and disinfection before it can be used,” the hospital said.
Despite this, Pimentel begs for the understanding of everybody.
“I will not debate with Makati Med, pero ang pakiusap ko na lang po, (but please I ask of you) not to discriminate my wife and the child in her tummy and then, take care of her,” the Senator appealed.
The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, has yet to comment on the incident.
Pimentel is the second senator to announce positive for COVID-19 following Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri. MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)
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