March 21 ------ The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday launched emergency hotlines for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) concerns. The hotlines were: 02-894-COVID (02-894-26843) and 1555 for Smart and PLDT subscribers. Both services are free of charge and were open 24 hours a day. Subscribers from other networks will be able to access the 1555 hotline as soon as "technical adjustments are completed."
Through the hotlines, callers can ask questions if they suspect they are infected with COVID-19, or request for assistance if they have symptoms and/or had known exposure to confirmed cases or patients under investigation, the DOH explained in a press advisory. "The information collected from emergency calls is transmitted to the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center and other relevant agencies for immediate facilitation and response," the DOH added.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said that they "expected an influx of calls during the first few days of the launch." "We ask for the public’s cooperation and patience to allow only relevant and important calls to go through. In that way, we can provide timely medical assistance to those who really need it," Duque said. The new hotlines were launched in partnership with the National Emergency Hotline of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and PLDT through its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc.