Roque defends PGH admission amid COVID-19 bed shortage: ‘I was in bad shape’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended his admission to the Philippine General Hospital amid reports of patients waiting in long lines for COVID-19 beds.

Noong ako po’y pinapasok ng aking mga doktor [When I was admitted by my doctors], it was because the condition merited admission,” said the official during his virtual briefing on Tuesday. Roque went on to recount how he started showing COVID-19 symptoms last Monday and tested positive the day after, which he then relayed to his doctors who work at the PGH.

Roque first announced his hospitalization over the weekend. 

“I can assure you po gaya ng lahat ng ibang ospital [like all other hospitals], ang basis for admission po kinakailangan [the basis for admission is that patients need to be] moderate at [and] severe cases. Sa aking kaso po [In my case], I was in bad shape when I was admitted,” explained the spokesman, adding that his condition improved by Sunday after being medicated with remdesivir.

The official explained how he had been seeing his doctors at the PGH for a long time, even before he entered public office, and that he was even born at the state hospital.

Roque recently drew flak from netizens after he said it was “un-Christian” to speculate how he got a COVID-19 bed immediately while other patients have to endure long lines for a slot, with some even dying without getting accommodated. 

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Kaya siya un-Christian, para bagang ‘pag ika’y nakakuha ng kuwarto sa panahon ngayon ay mayroon kang ginawa, na nang-isa ka sa kapwa mo," said Roque. "Nasa PGH po ako. Ang PGH kabahagi po iyan ng University of the Philippines. Wala pong pagkakaiba ang UP-PGH sa UP Diliman. Hindi po pupwede ang palakasan dito.”

[Translation: It is un-Christian, because it’s as if you one-upped someone just to get a hospital room. I am in the PGH. The PGH is part of the University of the Philippines. UP-PGH is not at all different from UP Diliman. Using connections does not work here.]

At the end of his briefing, the presidential spokesperson said he was already fit to transfer to a temporary treatment and monitoring facility beginning Wednesday, though his doctors are still monitoring the effect of remdesivir, particularly on his heart.

Roque first revealed in March 15 that he contracted COVID-19, then announced ten days later that he was already free of the disease.

The Philippines now has over 884,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Over 15,200 have succumbed to the illness, while nearly 704,000 have recovered from it.