Infectious disease doctor highlights plight of health workers in COVID-19 fight

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 31 2020 12:06 PM | Updated as of Mar 31 2020 01:06 PM

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MANILA - Dr. Daisy Ilagan-Tagarda has not held her two children, ages 3 and 7 years old, since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) began to spread in the Philippines.

Tagarda, who heads a hospital’s infection prevention control center, said she has isolated herself from her family since March 6.

“Pagdating ko hindi ko na pwede silang yakapin o mag-kiss after namin magkita. Minsan pinapagalitan ko pa, wag kayong lalapit,” she told radio DZMM.

“Tapos didiretso na ako sa CR (comfort room) para maligo at magkulong sa kuwarto para sumagot ng phone calls... Para din makaiwas na madala 'yung virus sa kanila. Lalo na nung first few days, hindi ko itatanggi may times talaga na umiiyak kaming frontliners.”

Tagarda is among thousands of Filipino health workers fighting in the frontlines against COVID-19, which has so far claimed 78 lives in the country. At least 12 doctors have succumbed to the illness.

Tagarda said she fears for her life and her family but her duty as an infectious disease doctor comes first.

“You have to look wider. It’s not about yourself, it’s not about your family. Kapag di mo ginamot ang mga ganitong klaseng sakit mas malaki ang tiyansa na kumalat ito,” she said.

“May halong frustration, lungkot pero minsan napapawi pagka may papauwiin kaming pasyente at umiiyak dahil sa joy, sa gratitude na nafi-feel niya sa'yo.”

Tagarda urged the public to “always be kind” to health workers following reports of discrimination against them such as eviction from their residences.

“Kung nasa kuwarto lang naman ang frontliner hindi naman 'yan makakahawa. Bigyan natin sila ng magandang lugar na pagpapahingahan,” she said.

“Ang pagsusuot pa lang ng PPE (personal protective equipment) ay napakahirap na. Napakainit, mahirap huminga.”

Donations of PPEs are “very welcome,” Tagarda added as she called on Filipinos to remain inside their homes to help health workers fight the contagion.

“Stay at home. Ito ang indirect (way) for you to help us na mabawasan ang cases ng COVID-19,” she said.