Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (PNA file photo)

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed around 12 medical experts from China to assist the Philippines in addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Saturday.

“The IATF authorizes the technical visit of 12 medical experts from the People’s Republic of China, who will assist government efforts in addressing the Covid-19 situation in the Philippines,” Nograles, spokesperson of IATF-EID, said in a virtual press conference aired on state-run PTV-4.

Nograles said the IATF-EID’s approval is still subject to ratification by the Office of the President.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila announced Thursday that a team of Chinese medical who will help the Philippines in its fight against Covid-19 is set to arrive in Manila on Sunday, April 5.

The team, composed of 12 top Chinese doctors and nurses, has expertise in several fields like critical care medicine, respiratory infection disease control and prevention, and traditional Chinese medicine, the embassy said in a statement.

Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on Monday said the main task of the medical experts is to provide technical advice on epidemic prevention and share medical treatment experience.

The Philippines has reported 3,018 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 136 fatalities and 52 recoveries.

To boost the fight against Covid-19, Nograles said the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were directed to draft the necessary guidelines for the utilization of FDA-approved COVID-19 rapid test kits, including lateral flow assay kits.

Nograles added that the DOH and the FDA were also told to rationalize testing protocols and complement the existing capacity of the country to conduct reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing.

He also noted that the Department of Transportation is now working with shipping firm 2GO Group Inc. for the setting up of a floating hospital that will serve 1,500 patients and a smaller ship that can handle 300 patients.

“This is all on top of the 1,000 that can be served in the terminal alone,” Nograles said.

Nograles said the religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo also allowed the government to use the whole Ciudad de Victoria estate for isolation and quarantine purposes, as well as for the temporary lodging of health workers.

“So kasama po dito ang Philippine Arena, ang Philippine Sports Stadium at ang The Garden Suites. There will be facilities not just for patients but for our front-liners. Once everything is readied, the whole complex will have an estimated 1,065 rooms for patients, while front-liners will be able to share 476 suites good for two to four health workers each,” he said.

Nograles said the Oriental Hotel chain with branches in Legazpi, Mariveles, and Leyte, as well as the Villa Amada in Legazpi, offered free accommodation to front-liners.

He said the health maintenance organizations (HMOs), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC), and health insurance providers would be considered as part of health front line services, for purposes of exempting their workers in the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

“Lagi natin tandaan (Let us remember), together we can beat Covid-19,” Nograles said. (PNA)