The University of the Philippines is strictly carrying out protocols following a recent case of two faculty members being declared patients under investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus disease.
University officials coordinating with the UP Diliman Health Service (UPHS), a primary hospital on campus, have confirmed on March 10, 2020, that two faculty members had submitted themselves for possible COVID-19 infection after attending an academic conference in Japan. UPHS declared the two as PUIs after showing fever and respiratory symptoms.
UPHS Director Jesusa Catabui has assured the community that protocols were followed in isolating the patients and disinfecting the premises and the ambulance used to carry them to a referral hospital.
Following a general protocol the UP System promptly prepared after the first reports of the disease breaking out of Wuhan, China and which it released early February 2020, UP administrators instructed all constituents who “have come into close contact with a confirmed case, or have been exposed to potential infection during travels, to seek consultation with the University Health Service on campus, or at the nearest health facility, and undergo a health assessment before resuming their daily routine.”
Under the same protocol, the UPHS and the Quezon City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (CESU) coordinated the monitoring of the persons with whom the PUIs had been in close contact. Contact tracing resulted in a list of persons for monitoring (PUMs), a term which means they did not manifest any symptoms of the disease. The PUMs are currently under monitored home quarantine.
Buildings that have been visited by the PUIs are now being disinfected.
On Monday night, March 9, 2020, the UP Diliman administration, led by Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo, suspended classes and limited work to a skeletal force on campus until Saturday, March 14, 2020. It met with experts from the UPHS and the UP Manila-Philippine General Hospital to come up with specific protocols on travel, events and academic programs, which it released on March 10, 2020, to the UP Diliman community.
Summarizing the guidelines, Nemenzo announced that:
“1) Official travel, whether local or international, will be prohibited indefinitely. . . . All members of the community returning from travel overseas will be required to self-quarantine for fourteen days;
“2) All big events on campus will be called off, until further notice;
“3) We are moving towards online platforms in place of conventional classroom delivery. The Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, in coordination with the Deans, will soon be communicating the instructions to all faculty and students;
“4) We remind the community that the most effective way of containing the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, proper hygiene and behavioral etiquette.”
Nemenzo also formed a COVID-19 Task Force, which can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org (with “COVID-19” as subject), 0947-427-9281 (mobile) or 8981-8500 local 2709, to answer questions and receive relevant information.
Elena E. Pernia, PhD
Vice President for Public Affairs
University of the Philippines
+63 2 8981 8500 local 2507