DOH points out reasons for high rate of COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2020   •   876

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday (April 23) stated several reasons why COVID-19 infection rate among healthcare workers has been high.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III noted some habits many healthcare workers have after their shifts that invite contamination.

Paglabas, tatanggalin nila ang PPEs nila pero ang scrub suits underneath, hindi nila tinatanggal (When they go out, they would remove the PPEs but not the scrub suits underneath),” Duque explained.

Kapag ganoon ang nangyari, talagang you will expect a contamination to happen (With that habit, definitely you will expect a contamination to happen),” he added.

Disputing claims that the high rate of infection among health care workers was due to shortage of PPEs, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted that most of the infected medical personnel contracted the virus outside their workplaces as many of them still have access to communities.

Kalaunan, nakita natin na (Later on, we found out that) it’s not really PPE-related,” Vergeire said.

“It’s something like when they go home and they go back to work and they get infections outside of workplaces,” she added.

Such was the case of infected healthcare workers at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Vergeire said.

RITM reported that COVID-19 was able to penetrate their facility through an office encoder who contracted the virus from the community outside working hours.

Vergeire said such is the reason why in some countries health workers are provided lodging to minimize their exposure to the virus outside hospitals.

Healthcare workers working in facilities are given boarding places for accommodation. Hindi na sila lalabas pa at makikisalamuha then babalik sa hospital pagkatapos (That way, they would no longer have to go in and out of the hospital),” the official explained.

Vergeire also noted cases of infection among healthcare workers due to patients lying about their travel history and previous exposures to carriers.

Nagstart iyan doon sa pagdami ng ating mga kaso na (The increase in number of infection started when) the doctors or the medical workers were unaware that this patient has exposure or history, so they got the disease,” the official said.

In its recent report, the DOH noted that the number of healthcare workers who tested positive for COVID-19 is at 1,062.

Of the said number, 26 already succumbed to the disease, 19 of them were doctors.

READ: PH healthcare workers positive for COVID-19 now at 1,062; death toll at 26

This number, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is ‘very worrisome’ as it is notably higher as compared to the number in other countries in the Western Pacific Region. MNP (with inputs from Aiko Miguel)

Congress to tackle proposed creation of a Medical Reserve Corps

Marje Pelayo   •   August 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is set to discuss the possible creation of a medical reserve corps as a solution to the shortage of medical workers in the country. 

Under House Bill numbers 6809, 6821, 7007 and 7151, a medical reserve corps will be composed of graduates of medicine, nursing, medical technology and other health related fields despite not having a professional license.  

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is certain that many Filipinos in the medical community are willing to join the corps and help.

“We have so many capable kababayans from the medical community who are willing to help and are just waiting to be tapped. All we need to do is to institutionally allow them to do so,” he said.

Based on the 2012 data of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), about 16 percent to 19 percent of doctors and nurses in the country were working abroad because of the higher pay compared to working in the Philippines. 

Cayetano explained, however, that the Bayanihan 2 Bill has provided additional funds for private and public medical workers to address the issue of lower pay among healthcare workers. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte approves more benefits for healthcare workers, orders gov’t to hire 10K medical professionals

Marje Pelayo   •   August 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Sunday (August 2) the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to revert the National Capital Region and nearby areas to a much stricter community quarantine.

This is in response to the overwhelming call for a “time out” from the country’s healthcare workers due to the rise in cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.

Apart from NCR, other areas to be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine include Bulacan and the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal effective midnight of Tuesday (August 4).

During the late night briefing in Malacañang, the President likewise approved the hiring of additional healthcare workers to augment the current workforce to include the hiring of 10,000 medical professionals.

Apart from that, healthcare workers would also be provided with additional benefits:

  • Risk allowance for private sector healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients;
  • P10,000 to P15,000 for every healthcare worker that gets sick
  • Life insurance
  • Free accommodation
  • Free transportation
  • Free and frequent COVID-19 testing

Also, President Duterte approved the Cabinet’s recommendation to issue work and quarantine passes to minimize movement.

The Chief Executive directed all local government units (LGUs) to intensify the localized lockdown and the implementation of Oplan Kalinga in their respective areas.

He stressed that the guidelines for minimum health standards must be strictly enforced and intensified while giving twenty million face masks for the poor.

Also approved by the President is the use of RT-PCR testing as gold standard.

Phl Orthopedic Center clarifies healthcare workers’ condition amid COVID-19

Maris Federez   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Orthopedic Center has clarified earlier reports that the hospital can no longer accommodate its own healthcare workers (HCW) who have contracted the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), now numbering to more than a hundred.

Contrary to an earlier report, the statement claiming that the hospital administration is now having difficulties finding quarantine facilities for the 80 HCWs who are active cases, came from a group of employees of the POC.

These employees also claimed that the 20 percent allocated beds at the hospital are not enough to accommodate the healthcare workers and other patients who are positive for COVID-19.

The POC administration’s official statement, however, said this information is untrue.

“This paragraph has two falsehoods, or at least one is a misperception and the other spouted wrong information claimed as true,” the statement said.

The statement further clarified that the POC is a tertiary hospital under the Department of Health (DOH) which “is ordered in this pandemic to accept and treat only severe and critical COVID-19 patients.”

It added that they would also immediately bring suspected COVID-19 patients to COVID-19 referral hospitals.

The DOH, on the other hand, is now conferring with the POC administration on which facilities will the mild and asymptomatic HCWs be sent.

Positive COVID-19 healthcare workers who are severely affected and are in critical condition may be admitted at the POC.

The DOH maintains that closing the POC or placing it under total lockdown is not an option as many patients will be affected. — (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

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