About 1 in 5 COVID-19 cases are health workers; DOH wary of future shortage

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 01 2020 04:59 PM | Updated as of May 01 2020 05:37 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health said Friday the number of health workers with COVID-19 has gone up to 1,694 by April 30, raising the specter of a shortage of doctors, nurses and other health personnel in the future. 

The total, announced Friday, was up by 75 cases from the day before.

“Halos isa sa 5 nakatalang kaso ng COVID-19 ay health care worker,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised briefing. 

(Almost 1 in 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 is a health care worker.)

“Ito’y nakakalungkot sapagkat kung magpapatuloy po ang ganitong trend, maaaring dumating ang panahon na magkulang na ang nag-aalaga sa ating mga pasyente,” she added.

(This is sad because if this trend continues, we may come to a point when we won’t have enough people to take care of our patients.)

Of the total, 566 are doctors, 638 are nurses, 104 are nursing assistants, 66 are medical technologists, 32 radiologic technologists, 19 midwives, 18 respiratory therapists, and 14 pharmacists.

The other 237 are barangay health workers, administrative staff, utility workers and other health facility personnel. 

The number of deaths remain at 33 — 24 of whom were doctors and 7 were nurses.

Meanwhile, a total of 256 health workers have recovered.

HOSPITALS WITH COVID-19

Of the 1,694 cases, 65 are at the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH). Vergeire said another 36 health workers there are quarantined while 3 of the confirmed cases have already recovered.

Meanwhile, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has recorded 45 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 38 of whom have recovered. Another 7 health workers are quarantined.

For the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, there are 9 confirmed cases and 1 recovered patient. Vergeire said there are others who are quarantined.

Other hospitals that have health workers infected with COVID-19 are: Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City, Mandaluyong City Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center and Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila,, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Marikina, Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City, and Baguio General Hospital.

Vergeire assured the public that government is providing enough personal protective equipment for both public and private hospitals.

“Bukod po rito, patuloy po ang paglabas ng DOH ng mga guidelines tungkol sa tamang (Other than this, DOH continues to release guidelines on proper) infection prevention and control measures,” she said, adding that these are based on recommendations of the World Health Organization and other experts.

The WHO earlier said it was “worrisome” that the Philippines has a higher percentage of health workers infected with COVID-19 when compared with the rest of the region. Since then, the number has continued to increase.

“Sa pagsunod ng mga infection prevention ang control measures, higit pa nating mapapababa ang bilang ng mga health care workers na mahahawa sa COVID-19,” Vergeire said.

(By following infection prevention and control measures, we can reduce the number of health care workers who are getting infected with COVID-19.)

The DOH earlier said it would be investigating the implementation of infection control measures in hospitals, but added that many of the COVID-19 cases in health facilities could be attributed to community transmission.