MANILA – The Philippines is ramping up orders of personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 frontline workers, with an additional 3 million sets scheduled to arrive in batches next week, a government official said Thursday.
In a virtual press briefing, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the first delivery of 250,000 from the 3 million PPE sets will be on May 18.
“Kailangang mag-stockpile tayo dahil alam natin na ang COVID ay magsta-stay nang matagal hanggang wala pa pong vaccine,” he said.
(We have to stockpile because COVID-19 will persist if there’s no vaccine.)
Galvez said the government had allotted P20 billion to procure an additional 11 million PPE sets.
Each set, which is of level 4 quality that provides maximum protection against diseases, costs around P1,800.
“Hindi po natin puwedeng i-sacrifice ang buhay ng ating mga frontliners (We could not sacrifice the lives of our frontliners). We must buy the best quality,” he said.
At the onset of the pandemic, the Philippine government purchased 1 million PPE sets worth P1.8 billion.
These have been distributed to nearly 700 hospitals across the country, said Galvez, also the presidential adviser on the peace process.
To date, some 2,156 health workers have caught the contagious disease, of whom 35 died while 737 recovered.
Of the 1,393 active cases, 1,007 have mild symptoms, 380 are asymptomatic, 5 have severe symptoms, and only one is considered a critical case.
Health workers who tested positive for COVID-19 include 790 nurses, 652 doctors, 133 nursing assistants, 75 medical technologists, 40 radiologic technologists and 219 non-medical staff in health facilities.
Recovery rates are improving, while the number of new infections has been declining.
“Since government began purchasing and distributing these PPEs with medical grade, level 4, there has been a great reduction of cases of deaths among our health workers. From as high as 20 deaths, ang mga doctor at nurses natin ngayon ay protektado na (our doctors and nurses our now protected),” Galvez said.
The pandemic policy chief implementer also belied reports of irregularities in the procurement of PPE sets.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has tallied 11,876 infections of the novel coronavirus, which emerged in Wuhan City in Hubei province, China.
The tally includes 790 people who succumbed to the illness while 2,337 have recovered.