MANILA (UPDATE) - Twelve Filipino doctors have died fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, an official of the Philippine Medical Association said Sunday.
"We still have some other patients confined and fighting the illness at this time. Hopefully, we don’t add more to the list of deaths among our practitioners, our physicians," Dr. Oscar Tinio, chair of the association's commission on legislation, told ANC.
"We’re still grieving but, at this point, we cannot do anything about what has lapsed already, what has been done already."
The country's latest death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak stood at 68, as of Saturday, out of the countrywide tally of 1,075 cases.
Tinio estimates that more than 5 percent of the country's health workers are also currently on quarantine due to the nature of their work in directly dealing with the disease.
To underscore the need of protecting all healthcare professionals in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Tinio disclosed that the doctor-to-patient ratio currently stands at 1:40,000, far from the ideal 1:10,000.
The country also does not have enough nurses, as they would "rather work somewhere else," he added.
"In Metro Manila, we have an over-concentration of physicians. In other areas, we have relatively very few doctors in remote areas of Luzon and all over the country as well," Tinio said.
While he appreciates the effort of government to get volunteer health workers to augment the current active medical workforce, Tinio said "definitely, it's not fair" to offer them only P500 per day in allowance.
According to the Department of Health, 690 individuals have signified interest, as of Sunday noon, to become HealthCare Warriors.
Tinio, meanwhile, urged the DOH to augment the supply of medical equipment in public and private hospitals such as face masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs).
"We're willing to procure them, (but) they're not available. The government, probably they would have supplies available," he said.
Rustico Jimenez, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, told DOH to "immediately release" PPEs to hospitals and do away with requests before giving supplies.
"We still have to request to them when to deliver and where to deliver the donated PPEs and others. It should be distributed immediately to save our frontliners. There should be no delay," he told ANC in a separate interview.
"Do not wait for more frontliners to die and to be quarantined."
Tinio, meantime, thanked those who have been giving support to health workers and frontline personnel.
"I would like to recognize and thank all those who have been active in providing for assistance and services to the medical professionals, all other healthcare providers as well, especially those people who have been giving us donations in the form of PPEs or food or anything to that effect," Tinio said.