1 in every 5 of the Philippines' COVID-19 cases involve health workers

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2020 06:29 PM

MANILA — The number of health workers in the Philippines infected with the new coronavirus rose to 1,619, a health official said Thursday, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the country's total COVID-19 cases.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the latest tally, as of April 29, shows that majority of the healthcare personnel affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are nurses, with 604, and doctors, with 557.

The country's total number of confirmed cases as of April 29 is 8,212, including 1,023 recoveries and 558 fatalities. (The total count increased on Thursday to 8,488, including 1,043 recoveries and 568 deaths.)

The other affected healthcare workers are 99 nursing assistants, 63 medical technologists, 31 radiologic technologists, 18 midwives, 17 respiratory therapists, 13 pharmacists, and 217 such other health personnel as barangay health workers, administrative aids or utility workers.

Vergeire said that of the 1,619 infected personnel, 250 have recovered while 33 succumbed to the disease.

Those who died include 24 doctors and 7 nurses.

A World Health Organization official had earlier raised concern over the relatively high percentage of health workers infected with the virus in the Philippines, citing that the regional average is only within the 2-3 percent range.

"Patuloy po ang ating ginagawang mga aktibidad upang masiguro na protektado ang ating mga healthcare workers laban sa COVID-19," Vergeire said.

(We continue to undertake activities to ensure the protection of our healthcare workers against the COVID-19.)

"Kaya't isang magandang balita ang ibinahagi kaninang umaga kay Health Secretary Francisco Duque III ng mga opisyal ng Ospital ng Makati, at Makati local health office. Sila po ay may halos 1.4 percent lamang, o 18 sa humigit-kumulang 1,300 na healthcare workers ng ospital ang nagpositibo sa COVID-19," she added.

(That's why a good news was reported to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III this morning by officials of the Ospital ng Makati and the Makati local health office. Only 1.4 percent, or 18 of the estimated 1,300 healthcare workers in the hospital are positive for COVID-19).

Vergeire said the hospital is considering the possibility that infection is caused by improper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment.

She said the health chief of Makati City reported that officials of the Ospital ng Makati is strict in the proper disposal of PPEs, while hospital clothes of healthcare workers are washed and sanitized in the hospital and are not allowed to be brought home.

"Naniniwala po kami sa Kagawaran na patuloy nating mababawasan ang bilang ng mga healthcare workers na nagpopositibo sa COVID-19 kung tayo ay mas mag-iingat at susunod sa ating alituntunin," Vergeire said.

(We in the Health Department believe that we will continue to reduce the number of healthcare workers who acquire the COVID-19 if we are more careful and compliant with protocols.)

Vergeire said the Lung Center of the Philippines has not reported as well of any personnel who have tested positive for the disease. Its last case has been discharged last March 28.

"Makakaasa po ang ating mga healthcare workers na hindi titigil ang ating Kagawaran ng Kalusugan sa pagprotekta ng ating mga healthcare workers upang sa susunod ay maibalita na natin na wala ng healthcare worker na nagkakasakit sa COVID-19," she said.

(Our healthcare workers can trust your Department of Health in protecting them so that in the future, we can report that no healthcare worker has fallen ill to COVID-19.)

The Philippines reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case three months ago on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from the Chinese city of Wuhan where the disease was first detected late last year.