DOH: High infection rate of COVID-19 among health workers not PPE-related

Department of Health (DOH) clarified that the main cause of high risk for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection among Filipino health care workers is not due to shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in health facilities nationwide.

In a virtual media briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said health care workers — either working locally or abroad — are prone to be infected with the deadly disease because they care for the sick.

Vergeire said some of the patients’ failure to disclose their complete exposure and travel history started the spread of the new coronavirus in the country, claiming the lives of Filipino health care workers.

“Moving forward, we see it’s not really the PPE, it’s something that when they go home, they go back to work and they get infections outside of their workplaces,” she added.

Citing that other countries provide accommodation for health care workers within their facilities, Vergeire said this is a good policy the DOH is looking into.

“So, they don’t go out anymore, engaging with other people, going back to their hospital. So, like what happened at RITM, it did not happen inside. [He/she] brought the infection to our facility,” she said.

The DOH is also mulling to cut short the work hours of health care workers because long shifts could make them more susceptible to the disease, Vergeire said.

“First of all, of course, physiologic, they’ll be able to rest, they’ll have high resistance, less prone to be infected. Secondly, less exposure to the disease and this is good to cut risk of transmission in the hospital,” she said.

More than 1,000 health care workers in the country tested positive for the coronavirus disease, most of whom are doctors. As of April 22, the DOH reported that there are 1,062 infected health care workers. Of the number, 26 died of the respiratory disease. (By Ma. Teresa Montemayor, PNA)

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