MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday urged the public to come up with gear that could protect those at the helm of efforts to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus as supplies ran short worldwide.
The Philippines "cannot be dependent on importers" of personal protective equipment (PPE) because it is "competing for supplies with the rest of the world," Robredo said.
"We are calling on all industrial designers, fashion designers, Architects, engineers etc. to come up with alternative designs for PPEs with readily available materials which can be produced and sourced locally. Of course, the requirement is it would still offer the same amount of protection," she said in a Facebook post.
"Let our Filipino ingenuity come up with bright ideas that will enable us to produce our own PPEs," she added.
Local seamstresses and tailors can also earn money from the initiative, she said.
The health department earlier Monday said it was relying on donations for PPEs because there was a global shortage of the gear.
The price of the protective suits in the black market rose 6 times from P500 before COVID-19 was classified as pandemic, an official of the Lung Center of the Philippines said.
Robredo on Sunday said her office collected some P23.5 million in donations, which could buy some 50,100 PPE sets and almost 8,500 food and care packages. The Office of the Vice President has distributed 17,100 PPEs, she said.
The Philippines has confirmed 396 cases of the respiratory disease, which are expected to increase with the expected arrival of additional test kits. The tally includes 25 deaths and 17 patients who recovered.