Nurses group rebuts DOH statement on high COVID-19 infection rate among PH healthcare workers

Marje Pelayo   •   April 27, 2020   •   623

MANILA, Philippines — A group of nurses contradicted the claim of the Department of Health (DOH) that most healthcare workers got infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from outside their workplaces. 

As of DOH’s latest report on Monday (April 27), a total of 1,120 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Filipino Nurses United said it is the inadequacy of PPEs and long hours of duty without breaks that compromise the safety, health, and lives of nurses. 

“We have received reports that nurses do not eat, drink nor take comfort room breaks so as not to soil or discard the PPEs,” the group said in a statement. 

“Furthermore, long duty hours of more than eight hours per shift or over 40 hours a week due to severe understaffing make them much more vulnerable to COVID-19 and other diseases due to weakened immune systems,” it added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III last week alleged medical workers of bad habits in handling their PPEs.

“Paglabas, tatanggalin nila ang PPEs nila pero ang scrub suits underneath, hindi nila tinatanggal. Lalabas sila kapag ganoon ang nangyari, talagang you will expect a contamination to happen [When they go out, they remove their PPEs but not the scrub suit underneath. They go out, and if that’s the case, you will expect contamination to happen],” Duque claimed in one of his press briefings.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire shared the same reasoning. 

“When they go home and when they go back to work and they get infections outside of their workplaces,” she said in a separate interview.

But the group argued that “wearing PPEs for 12 hours of duty for seven days or 14 days straight duty causes nurses to suffer from suffocation, exhaustion, and dehydration because of extreme heat from the coveralls which compromise their breathing.”

Such conditions in workplaces, the group said, have already caused nurses to suffer vertigo, hypertension, fluid, and electrolyte imbalance such as hypokalemia or low potassium levels due to severe perspiration.

Thus, the nurses’ group has asked the national government for support such as an adequate supply of PPEs and the augmentation of manpower in hospitals. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) already expressed concern over the high rate of COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers in the Philippines, one of the highest in the Western Pacific Region. 

The international health body recommends hospitals to reduce the hours of nurses’ and doctors’ duty as well as other medical personnel. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

FDA, nilinaw na maaari pa ring gamitin ang Sinovac vaccine para sa healthcare workers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Nilinaw ng Food and Drug Administration (FDA) na maaari pa rin namang gamitin ang Sinovac vaccines sa healthcare workers dahil may maibibigay pa rin naman itong proteksiyon para sa mga hindi exposed o walang contact sa mga pasyenteng may COVID-19.

Ginawa ni FDA Director General Eric Domingo ang paglilinaw matapos nitong ihayag noong Lunes na hindi inirerekomenda sa healthcare workers na exposed sa COVID-19 patients ang Sinovac dahil nasa 50.4% lamang ang efficacy rate nito batay sa resulta ng pagsusuri sa bansang Brazil.

“Recommendation lamang naman yun halimabawa ayaw na niyang hintayin yung ibang bakuna and then willing naman siya to take the vaccine knowing na ang possible efficacy nito sa situation mo is 50% and you’d rather take it now rather than 1 or 2 months from now kung kelan darating yung bakuna pwede naman yun. Hindi naman namin sya ipinagbabawal na gamitin,” ang pahayag ni Domingo.

Paliwanag ni Domingo, bumababa ang bisa ng bakuna kapag madalas na nakakasalamuha ng isang tao ang pasyenteng may COVID-19.

“Ang tao naman kasi iba iba ang situation natin, iba iba rin ang ating suceptibility, saka iba iba yung exposure natin, so depende po yan sa situation. Maaring mas bumaba ang efficacy ng isang vaccine kung tayo ay nasa situation talagang nasa harap natin araw araw yung covid virus, at the exposure is continuous and at high level,” ang paliwanag ng opisyal.

“Maaaring kahit mabakunahan ka ng first dose pero hindi ka pa nakaka-mount ng enough response to ward off yung infection kasi nga masyadong regular iyong exposure sa to the covid-19 virus,” dagdag pa niya.

Binigyang-diin din ng pinuno ng FDA na bagaman naghihintay pa rin na maipalathala ang mga datos ukol sa clinical trial ng Sinovac ay may mga sapat namang batayan para masegurong ligtas itong gamitin.

Posible rin aniyang mapalawak pa ang grupo o edad na pwedeng tumanggap ng naturang bakuna dahil hindi pa tapos ang ginagawa ritong clinical trial.

Tiniyak din ni Domingo na maaari pang marebisa ang mga probisyon sa ibinigay na emergency use authorization ng Pilipinas para sa Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

116,000 healthcare workers in NCR registered for COVID-19 vaccination

Marje Pelayo   •   February 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 116,000 healthcare workers in the National Capital Region (NCR) have registered for the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination.

The Department of Health (DOH) has directed the local government units to prepare an alternative list of recipients to prevent wastage in case any of the pre-registrants decide to withdraw on the day of the vaccination.

“Alam po natin lahat that there is this vaccine hesistancy. Alam po natin ang realidad na nangyayari po ito ngayon sa iba’t ibang bansa na on the day itself na hindi nagsho-show up for the appointments or biglang umaatras ang mga recipients,” said Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The government is continuously encouraging individuals from the priority sector to register in order to achieve the target number for the initial vaccine rollout.

“Within the hospitals they are still in the process of going through each of their staff to find kung sino ang mga may co- morbidities, sino iyong mga may exclusions and they should be submitting especially those maybe in the priority facilities,” noted DR Nikka Hao, the Deputy officer of the COVID-19 Surveillance and Quick Action Unit.

Authorities target to complete the final list of medical frontliners for the initial vaccination on February 15.

Around 117,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive mid-February while the government is still waiting for the initial volume coming from AstraZeneca.

All these vaccines will come from the World Health Organization (WHO) COVAX Facility which will be distributed first in major hospitals in Metro Manila. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

MRT-3 depot personnel don full PPEs after 36 workers contract COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —The management of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) has ordered its personnel to put on full personal protective equipment (PPE) with face masks and shields to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) within the depot. 

This, after 36 depot personnel and six workers of the train’s maintenance provider Sumitomo-MHI-TESP contracted COVID-19 prompting the management to place the entire depot under “enhanced access control”. 

All infected personnel were immediately isolated and placed under quarantine.

Under “enhanced access control,” only personnel who test negative in the RT-PCR swab testing will be allowed entry into the depot.

They are required to submit a health declaration form twice daily as part of the monitoring of their individual health conditions.

Also, regular temperature checking is imposed on all entering and exiting employees and those with temperature higher than 37.7 degrees Celsius will not be allowed inside.

All measures are aimed at protecting depot personnel as well as MRT-3 passengers from contracting COVID-19.

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