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Philippine bishop calls for Covid-19 care volunteers

Young people asked to help ease the burden on health workers taking care of coronavirus patients

Philippine bishop calls for Covid-19 care volunteers

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David is calling on young people to assist doctors and nurses overwhelmed by the number of Covid-19 patients in the Philippines. (Photo supplied)

A Catholic bishop has called on young people to assist doctors and nurses who earlier called for a “time-out” due to an overwhelming number of coronavirus patients in Philippine hospitals.

According to the Philippine Health Department, the country had recorded 169,213 Covid-19 cases with 2,687 deaths as of Aug. 18.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, acting president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said on Aug. 16 that young people in Philippine dioceses must revive a religious group to do volunteer work to ease the burden on health workers.

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“On the feast day of San Roque [Saint Roch], I wish to call on young people in all dioceses, especially in parishes named after San Roque, to help us revive the Cofradias de San Roque [Confraternity of Saint Roch] by volunteering to serve as health care volunteers to back up our health care workers, especially in quarantine facilities,” Bishop David said on social media.

The Confraternity of Saint Roch was instituted by Pope Paul III in the 1500s to do charitable works for the sick, particularly those struck by pandemics. Saint Roch’s intercession is also being invoked by churchgoers against the coronavirus pandemic.

Bishop David said care should be given to patients not only in hospitals but also to those confined in their homes.

“I am referring to the care of Covid positive patients, not necessarily in hospitals but in public or private quarantine facilities, including those who have opted for home quarantine. We can enter into a partnership with … health officials and assist them in monitoring two kinds of quarantined patients: those without symptoms and those with mild symptoms,” the prelate added.

The bishop said his diocese had started an online monitoring program for Covid patients to lessen the risk of exposure for their volunteers.

“For the moment, we [in Kalookan Diocese] are mobilizing volunteers who can do mainly online monitoring of Covid positives because we understand the risk of exposing them to infection if we deploy them to do physical monitoring,” Bishop David said.

He also said members of the confraternity would undergo training and accreditation by medical professionals before doing their work.

“We can have our volunteers trained by city and municipal health care officers, and also have them formally accredited as volunteers, with a proper definition of what they will be allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do,” said Bishop David.

“Each volunteer, depending on their capacity and availability, will be assigned a number of patients to monitor and are expected to report the progress of their patients to the accredited health officers in charge of them, on a daily basis. The idea is to keep as few patients as possible from having to be taken to hospital so that hospitals don’t get overwhelmed.”

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