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Healthcare workers with COVID-19 more than double in last 2 weeks amid surge

MANILA — For the first time in over half a year, COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers are again in an upward trend, according to Department of Health (DOH) data analyzed by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group (IRG).

“Since September up until February, the number of infections has been steadily declining by 29% each month, on average,” the ABS-CBN IRG said.

However, from March 9 to March 22, 2021, the DOH logged 533 new COVID-19 cases among health workers. This is more than double the new cases recorded for the previous 2-week periods, which ranged from only 200 to 250.

The significant increase was recorded as the country grapples with the continued surge in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and other regions.

According to the ABS-CBN IRG, the DOH has not logged any COVID-19 deaths among healthcare workers for more than a month.

As of March 22, there has been a total of 15,531 COVID-19 cases among health workers, which is 2% of the total cases in the country. This is a lower percentage compared to May last year when health workers cases reached almost 20% of the nation’s total cases. 

However, it remains to be seen if these are accurate since health workers' data, especially when it comes to deaths, are reported relatively late. The DOH previously said this is due to validation.

Of the 15,531 cases, 82 have died and 15,034 have recovered.

Of those infected, 5,549 are nurses, 2,506 are doctors, 1,148 are nursing assistants, 789 are medical technologists and 553 are midwives. 

There are also 603 administrative staff in health facilities and 420 barangay health workers.

Currently, more than 500,000 health workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19. This is less than a third of the estimated total number of health workers in the country, which is at 1.7 million.

The government has been criticized for the slow rollout of vaccines, which started over 3 weeks ago, as well as several reported instances when non-health workers were allowed to jump the vaccination queue.

With more COVID-19 cases being detected, hospitals have reportedly been overflowing with patients. 

The DOH also said it is transferring funds to hire more than 7,600 health workers for the Center for Health Development Metro Manila, DOH-retained and Specialty Hospitals, Philippine General Hospital and other health facilities.