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Lung Center offers free ‘COVID-19 Ask Force’ to public

The Lung Center of the Philippines has launched a platform where netizens can consult doctors for free through Facebook in a bid to assuage the public’s fears over the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Since the “COVID-19 Ask Force” was launched on March 19, the 625 volunteer doctors have conducted a total of 3,000 consultations through social media, according to a 24 Oras report by Sandra Aguinaldo on Wednesday.

The Ask Force is open from Monday to Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 7 to 10 p.m.

“May mga patients kasi, they already complain of this so we had to direct them to the nearest hospital. At the same time, we see naman the mild cases that could just be handled [by] quarantine. But all of these cases, they are reported to the Department of Health (DOH),” Dr. Virginia Delos Reyes said.

The free service has already received 32,000 messages.

Under the testing protocols of the DOH, only pregnant women, adults 60 years old and up with mild symptoms and other pre-existing medical conditions, and people exhibiting severe symptoms may be tested for COVID-19.

“‘Yung huling testing protocol natin, angkop ‘yun sa limited supply ng testing kits natin,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III explained.

The DOH said they are already distributing thousands of test kits to various sub-national laboratories to ramp up the country’s testing capacity. 

"Ideally talaga, ideally talaga ma-test natin lahat kasi if we test everyone, made-define natin 'yung outbreak,” Dr. Karl Evans Henson, director of The Medical City Hospital Infection Control and Epidemiology Center, said.

“Ibig sabihin, kasi makikita talaga natin, ‘Ah, ganitong porsiyento ng mga pasyente na nagkasakit, mild. Ganitong porsiyento, severe, gan'on. With the testing strategy that we have now, that's not possible. Kasi nagpapa-uwi tayo ng may mga mild symptoms na hindi natin tine-test.”

COVID-19 has claimed 38 lives and infected 636 people nationwide as of Wednesday afternoon. —Julia Mari Ornedo/LDF, GMA News