Philippine well being ministry says no corruption in $1.three bln pandemic funds

  • Philippines has second highest daily COVID-19 infections
  • Pandemic funds not stolen, says health minister
  • Nursing staff warn against mass resignation due to unpaid allowance

MANILA, Aug. 14 (Reuters) – The Philippine health minister, who asked questions about more than $ 1 billion in COVID-19 spending, denied Saturday that money was “stolen” as his department promised everyone Peso accountable.

The country is battling one of Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, and the spread of the virulent Delta variant is overwhelming hospitals and healthcare workers, some of whom have warned of mass resignations for unpaid allowances. Continue reading

“You can be sure that no money has gone into corruption. Nothing has been stolen. I’m sure of that,” Health Minister Francisco Duque told DZMM radio on Saturday.

The state auditor has reported pesos 67.3 billion ($ 1.33 billion) of “deficiencies”, casting doubts about the regularity of related transactions in the country’s pandemic response.

The Ministry of Health said it would submit its statement, including required documents, to the state auditor next week before the September 27 deadline.

The Philippines recorded 14,249 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, the second largest daily increase, and 233 additional deaths. The rate of positivity was a record high, with a quarter of the nearly 53,000 people tested confirmed positive.

With more than 1.71 million infections and 29,838 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia alongside Indonesia.

The capital region of Manila, a sprawl of 16 cities in which more than 13 million people live, remains strictly closed to curb the spread of the delta variant.

Only around 11% of the country’s 110 million people are fully vaccinated. Almost a quarter of the country’s 1,291 hospitals are at critical risk – with occupancy rates of 85% or above – government data showed.

Small hospitals near the capital region are overwhelmed by the increasing number of cases.

A 50-bed public hospital in the city of Binan, south of the capital, is trying to treat 100 to 200 patients, most of them in corridors and tents separated by curtains in the parking lot, said Dr. Melbril Alonte, the medical director, told DZMM Radio

“The sad truth is that the number of patients continues to grow and there is no sign of relaxation,” Alonte said, adding that the facility’s nurses and doctors are getting sick from exhaustion.

Dozens of nurses could step down from unpaid special risk allowances for months, Jocelyn Andamo, general secretary of Filipino Nurses United, told Reuters. Health care workers will hold a nationwide protest next week, she said.

($ 1 = 50.55 Philippine Pesos)

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Adaptation by William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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