(UPDATED) The Ospital ng Palawan (ONP), the province’s main COVID-19 facility, took a major hit when two of its doctors and 18 nurses and crew were sidelined as part of standard protocol measures following the death of a person under investigation (PUI) who had refused to undergo laboratory testing.

Dr. Melecio Dy, hospital director of Ospital ng Palawan (ONP), in an exclusive interview with Palawan News on Wednesday, said that around 20 medical personnel had been placed under quarantine, two of whom were already swabbed for confirmatory testing, after being exposed to the deceased PUI who refused to be isolated and tested.

Dy pointed out however that none of the medical staff have indicated any symptoms of illness.

“Even the doctor and nursing staff, who were tested have no symptoms. But we had them tested still since sila yung matagal na direct contact when they intubated the patient from Day 1,” he said.

The patient, who had refused to be subjected to COVID-19 testing after showing signs of the illness, had demanded to be discharged against doctor’s advice, and died at home on April 3.

“Hindi naman sya talaga dapat PUI because he had no travel history and no exposure with COVID-patients. He was only flagged as PUI because his symptoms fit the category of the Department of Health (DOH), but as a precautionary measure, we had the doctors and nurses under quarantine to err on the safe side,” he said.

Despite a reduction of its medical manpower, Dy remained confident that ONP still has enough health workers to provide needed medical services, pointing out that non-essential and non-emergent procedures have also decreased.

“We usually see more than 250 patients a day, but during the onset of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), around 140 na lang. We reassigned staff from other departments to make sure we have enough people to provide the medical services needed ng mga Palaweño,” he added.

The provincial hospital has enough personal protective equipment (PPE) from donations being sent by the government and the concerned civic groups.

“PPE, in average, good for 2 weeks for general areas. For COVID-isolation and intensive care unit (ICU), good for 4 weeks,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) of DOH, in a press statement Wednesday said that one PUI from Palawan has tested negative.

“As of April 7, seven PUI in MIMAROPA tested negative; three from Occidental Mindoro, two from Oriental Mindoro, one from Marinduque, and one from Palawan,” the statement said.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.