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Health tech boosts COVID-19 management efforts in the Philippines

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In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Philippines government have been proactively using tech to keep citizens informed, educated and updated.

The Department of Health has a website that not only lists the number of patients under investigation (PUIs) for the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) but also shows a map of their general location.

As part of continuing efforts to empower the public with the right information amid concerns over COVID-19, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications is offering free access to more relevant government websites.

Starting March 11, subscribers of Smart, Sun, and TNT could access the official websites of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council ( and Philippine Information Agency ( for free on their mobile phones.

The two websites provide official information and updates on the number and locations of persons under investigation (PUI), as well as advisories on what to do and how to stay protected.

Smart, Sun, and TNT users can also still make calls without being charged to the 911 Emergency Hotline and 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Centre.

Earlier, Smart had provided free access to the websites of the Department of Health, particularly its COVID-19 Tracker (, and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (

“The key to dealing with this situation is having the right information at all times. By providing free access to these sites, we empower the public by helping them get information that will enable them to protect themselves, their families, and communities,” said PLDT-Smart Public Affairs Head Ramon R. Isberto.

The Philippines, one of the high-risk countries from the coronavirus outbreak, recorded the first death outside China. The government has announced lock-down of Metro Manila and is mulling over more localised lock-downs as the COVID-19 cases increase gradually and the WHO declaring coronavirus as a pandemic.

On March 8, with the recommendation of the Department of Health, the Office of the President declared a state of Public Health Emergency. This will facilitate mobilisation of resources, ease processes including procurement of critical logistics and supplies and critical reporting,

On March 12 a Presidential Press Conference was conducted announcing the raising of The Philippines COVID-19 Alert Level System to Code Red Sublevel 2. The Chief Executive approved the imposition of the Stringent Social Distancing Measures in the National Capital Region for 30 days effective March 15.

Before January 30, there were no medical facilities in the Philippines that could confirm cases of the virus. Before that date, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa conducted preliminary tests on suspected cases to determine if they are infected with a coronavirus but could not detect the new strain on patients.

The Philippine Genome Center is also developing a testing kit for the virus and is negotiating with the DOH for possible collaboration on the kit’s development.

A testing kit for the virus was announced in February to have been developed by the National Institutes of Health at the University of the Philippines Manila.

The kit was developed two weeks before the announcement and was subject to evaluation by the DOH. The equipment is a polymerase chain reaction testing kit and is to be produced by Manila HealthTek.

The Philippines have been aggressively driving health tech in the country long before COVID made innovation urgent.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has unveiled its plans to boost efforts in putting DOST-developed products and technologies into the market in 2020.

The Philippine Council for Health Research PCHRD’s project, Agapay and Tayô are robotics and artificial intelligence-assisted technologies meant to assist injured patients in their journey toward recovery.


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