DOH to check if health workers get regular COVID-19 testing
Medical staff from the National Children's Hospital take part in a vigil to honour their fallen colleagues and call on the government to provide ample protection to frontline staff and the immediate release of their bonuses, in Quezon City on April 28, 2020.
AFP/Maria Tan

DOH to check if health workers get regular COVID-19 testing

(Philstar.com) - April 14, 2021 - 2:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health will look into reports that health care workers do not get regular COVID-19 testing despite an agency memorandum requiring it.

Some medical frontliners have refuted Health Secretary Francisco Duque’s report to President Rodrigo Duterte that they undergo COVID-19 testing every two weeks.

"We are going to check on this and we will try to assist the hospital so we may be able to give that protection to our health care workers," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ "The Source" on Wednesday.

The DOH reiterated its Memorandum 2020-0546 on the testing of health care workers directly caring for or who are exposed to COVID-19 cases in a statement on Tuesday night.

After Duque’s report to Duterte on Monday night, some medical frontliners took to Twitter to call out the statement as a “blatant lie,” adding they have only been tested once or twice since the pandemic began in 2020.

FROM INTERAKSYON: Do health workers undergo COVID-19 test every two weeks? Medical frontliners deny Duque’s claim

Vergeire explained that the testing is based on the resources of the hospitals. “Some hospitals right now, they are having these number of individuals who they are testing because of this increase in the number of cases. Maybe that’s why they are not able to comply with this department memorandum,” she added.

“If the resources of the hospitals would not suffice, at the very least they should be testing their employees regularly if it’s once a month, once every two months at least the workers will be tested and they can be assured that they do not have the infection,” Vergeire also said.

In its statement on Tuesday night, the DOH urged health care workers to report hospitals not providing mandatory testing to the health department through its hotline 1555 or its complaints handling unit, dohpau@gmail.com

The Alliance of Health Workers wrote to Duterte on Tuesday and sought a dialogue with him, stressing their need for support and protection. Leaders said the pandemic has worsened the condition in hospitals already understaffed even before the health crisis hit. In COVID-19 wards, they said one nurse has to tend to 12 patients, while a nursing aide has 35.

Data on April 12 showed that 16,510 health workers have contracted the COVID-19, where 86 have already died. Some 628 of the said figure remain as active cases, while 15,796 have since recovered. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Christian Deiparine

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