MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police raided a clandestine hospital and drugstore that were secretly treating Chinese citizens suspected of being infected with the coronavirus, police officials said Wednesday.
Two people were arrested and one patient was found during Tuesday’s raid at the residential villa that had been illegally turned into a seven-bed hospital and drugstore, police Brig. Gen. Rhoderick Armamento said.
More than 200 suspected coronavirus rapid test kits and syringes were recovered from trash cans at the villa. The hospital and drugstore are in a large room by a swimming pool at the back of the compound, according to Armamento and a police video.
The male Chinese patient was moved to a Philippine hospital. Those arrested were the Chinese administrator of the hospital, which may have been operating secretly for about three months, and a compatriot who manned the drugstore, he said.
“They have practiced medicine and prescribed drugs without a license,” Armamento said by telephone. “The Chinese patients who were brought there may still be walking around in public and can infect other people.”
The villa is in the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone, a former U.S. Air Force base turned into a commercial and leisure center with upscale residential enclaves northwest of Manila. Most of the medical facility’s clients may have come from the large number of Chinese citizens working in online gambling outfits in Clark, Armamento said.
The Philippines, backed by the Chinese government, has launched a crackdown on Chinese who mostly entered the country as tourists and then worked for the online gambling operations, which are illegal in China. The outfits cater mostly to Chinese clients in mainland China.
Illegal Chinese workers are likely to avoid regular Philippine hospitals because they might be identified and arrested, Armamento said.
Police put the residential compound under surveillance after receiving a complaint that a person infected with the coronavirus was being treated there. They coordinated with Department of Health and Food and Drug Administration officials prior to the raid, a police report said.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who heads a national police force enforcing quarantine restrictions, told AP that the illegal hospital and drugstore could endanger patients instead of saving them because they do not conform with government health regulations and standards.
The Philippines has reported more than 13,200 coronavirus infections, including 842 deaths, among the highest number in Southeast Asia.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told an online Senate hearing Wednesday that the Philippines is experiencing a second wave of infections after cases spiked and then eased in recent months. Senators stressed the need for coronavirus tests to be ramped up to contain infections.