MANILA (UPDATE) – Fifty health workers left Cebu City Wednesday morning, bound for Metro Manila to augment frontliners in the capital, which is battling a surge in coronavirus infections.
Hospitals in Metro Manila recently declared full capacity as COVID-19 cases continued to rise, prompting calls for the government to send help.
The 50 health workers include 5 doctors, 35 nurses, 4 doctor to the barrios, 4 medical technologists and 2 medical officers from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and the Cebu City Health Department.
These workers will be sent to the National Kidney Transplant Institute, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Rizal Medical Center and Tondo Medical Center, said Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino.
“When Metro Manila sneezes, the rest of the country catches a cold. It was decided that the Visayas should render assistance to the now overwhelmed health care system in NCR plus,” said Dino.
Dr. Mary Jean Lorcehe, spokesperson for the Department of Health in Central Visayas, said the central region will lend health workers for a month as its healthcare critical care utilization rate is only at 28 percent.
The region earlier this year experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases which was addressed through "good case management control," said Loreche.
Loreche said health workers will receive basic and premium pay with their special risk allowance and other benefits.
They would be tested for the coronavirus before returning to Central Visayas, and will be tested again and isolated upon arrival, she added.
"We also ask the rest of the country to pray for us. And we are thankful for the support of the government," said Dr. Niki Rato, 31, a family medicine specialist who is among the 50 health workers.
Dino said his office is also sending 100 vials of remdesivir and 10 vials of tocilizumab medicine, as well as 300 units of blood and convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.
The Philippines as of Tuesday logged a record-high 382 deaths and 9,373 more coronavirus infections, bringing its total cases to 812,760.
The country's total cases is expected to reach 1 million by the end of the month, according to independent research group OCTA.