Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (RTVM)

Medical graduates will now be permitted to engage in limited medical practice to help augment the current number of health-care professionals in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases said that guidelines have been prepared by the Department of Health (DOH) and was approved by the task force.

Senator Francis Tolentino pointed out that around 1,524 medical graduates took the licensure exams early March and the results can be waived to enable immediate deployment of additional medical personnel to assist in public hospitals.

Section 12, item D of the Medical Act of 1959 (Republic Act 2382) states that “Medical students who have completed the first four years of medical course, graduates of medicine and registered nurses who may be given limited and special authorization by the Secretary of Health to render medical services during epidemics or national emergencies whenever the services of duly registered physicians are not available.”

But Nograles pointed out that, “Any authorization shall only be effective for the duration of the state of public health emergency in the Philippines unless earlier withdrawn by the IATF upon recommendation of the DOH.”

Meanwhile in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, 29 new healthcare workers were hired by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to assist managing patients with COVID-19 cases. These patients will be temporarily housed at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention Center in Clark, and the New Clark City Government Building in Capas, Tarlac.

When combined, the two facilities can accommodate around 1,000 patients with mild symptoms of the virus while persons under investigation (PUIs) will be placed at the New Clark City Athletes’ Village.

When the two converted facilities become operational by next week and the new hires start working, they will be entitled to free meals and lodging. (Jojo Mangahis)