Sec. Bautista: 167 DSWD Personnel Test Positive For COVID-19

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Some 167 personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in its central and field offices have contracted the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said Tuesday.

During the bi-weekly uSAP Tayo conference, Bautista said 57 already recovered while some 1,500 others submitted themselves to self-quarantine following their exposure to individuals who tested positive for the respiratory disease.

“Ang iba naman po ay masusing binabantayan ang kalusugan. Ang ahensya ay nagbibigay din ng karagdagang tulong para sa mga opisyal na nahawa ng pandemya kabilang na ang referral to DOH facility, provision of PPEs, vitamin, supplements, hazard pay, at iba pa (The others are seeking treatment and are under health monitoring. The agency provides assistance to these officials who have contracted the disease including referrals to any Department of Health facility, provision of personal protective equipment, vitamins, supplements, hazard pays, among others),” he said.

Bautista said they prioritize the well-being of their personnel.

He said they have access to professional psychosocial support providers to address their mental health concerns.

The agency’s Human Resource Management and Development Service (HRMDS), along with its counterpart in the field offices as internal service providers, have been conducting mental health first response and psychological first aid via teleconferencing and other available platforms while external service providers are offering free services through their support hotlines.

DSWD encouraged officials and staff to “avail of the free well-being coaching/counseling and crisis helpline services offered by Mindwell Psychosocial Services and the Masters Psychosocial Services to help them deal with emotional crises, stress, and anxiety.”

The staff’s exposure to the virus has also contributed to the delay of the social amelioration program’s (SAP) distribution timeline.

“Bahagya ding naantala ang payouts dahil marami sa ating personahe ang kailangan mag quarantine dahil sa exposure (It has caused delay for the payouts because they needed to be quarantined due to their exposure),” Bautista said.

He also apologized to the public for not meeting their August 15 deadline but guaranteed that they are doing everything to continue and complete the payouts.

As of August 18, DSWD has already rolled out some PHP77 billion of its fund to almost 13 million family beneficiaries of SAP through manual and digital payouts.

They have so far completed 91 percent of their distribution.

The family beneficiaries include more than 1.3 million members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P’s); 5.6 million low-income and non-4P’s; 3.1 million waitlisted, low-income, and non 4P’s; some 1.5 million waitlisted families in enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) areas; and 124,558 transport network vehicle service and public utility vehicle drivers nationwide.

The “Bayanihan to Heal As One” Act has given the national government powers to provide emergency subsidies to low-income families.

Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 of 2020 stated that the subsidy shall amount to a minimum of PHP5,000 to a maximum of PHP8,000 a month for two months to provide for basic food, medicine and toiletries. (PNA)

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