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Health workers, nurses want regular testing
In separate statements, the AHW and FNU said the crisis highlights the risks faced by healthcare workers as they are exposed to COVID-19 while being “ill-equipped and poorly protected.”
Michael Varcas/File

Health workers, nurses want regular testing

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - April 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) and the Filipino Nurses United (FNU) yesterday expressed deep concern over the rising cases of COVID-19 among their ranks and urged that they be regularly tested for the novel coronavirus.

In separate statements, the AHW and FNU said the crisis highlights the risks faced by healthcare workers as they are exposed to COVID-19 while being “ill-equipped and poorly protected.”

For AHW president Roberto Mendoza, the government’s position that only healthcare workers with symptoms can be tested for COVID-19 is deplorable and a manifestation of disregard for their sacrifices to contain the virus.

“We deplore the recent announcement of the DOH that only those health workers with severe or mild symptoms of COVID-19 are eligible for testing. Health workers as frontliners should be checked regularly and must be coronavirus-free since they are the ones taking care of the patients,” Mendoza said.

He added that many of their colleagues get infected primarily “due to lack of personal protective equipment aggravated by 12 hours of duty a day for seven to eight days in half of the month.”

The government, according to the AHW president, must hire and train more permanent health workers and increase public hospital budget, especially since it remains uncertain when the epidemic would end.

Mendoza’s call was echoed by FNU president Maristela Abenojar, who said with the continuing depletion of hospital manpower, the government should carry out an “emergency mass hiring of nurses, who should be accorded just compensation with job security and given adequate protection in the performance of their duties.”

Citing the report of the Department of Health, Abenojar claimed there were 766 healthcare workers who had already contracted the virus as of Friday. Of this number, 339 are doctors while 342 are nurses.

She maintained that the actual number may be higher, given that the government has not conducted an “aggressive” mass testing among health workers.

“With the expected surge of cases, FNU continues to demand that the government hire nurses and other health workers to ensure adequate staffing for our hospitals and communities before it is too late to save thousands of lives from COVID-19,” she added.

HEALTH WORKERS
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