‘More healthcare workers getting infected with COVID-19’

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
âMore healthcare workers getting infected with COVID-19â
Medical frontliners attend to patients on Tuesday midnight, April 27, 2021 at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon CIty which set up additional tents near the emergency room to attend to the influx of COVID-19 patients.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — More healthcare workers (HCWs) are now getting infected with COVID-19 amid the rise in cases, according to the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP).

“We are also seeing an increasing number of COVID cases among HCWs but not at the level of what we experienced last March and also last year,” PCP president Maricar Limpin said in an interview over One News’  “The Chiefs.”

Despite the increasing number of infections, Limpin said there is still sufficient supply of HCWs in both government and private hospitals, except in small medical facilities.

Small hospitals are experiencing a shortage of nurses, she said, because many HCWs opted to resign to work abroad or due to fear of getting infected with COVID.

“There’s some fear to stay in the hospital because they might catch Covid and to think that their salary in the small hospitals isn’t much either,” Limpin explained.

Dr. Ronald Law, of the Department of Health (DOH) Health Emergency Management Bureau (HEMB), gave assurance that the government is taking appropriate measures to address a possible manpower shortage in hospitals due to a surge in cases.

“Preparedness strategies are being done and response actions will be implemented at health facility, community and system levels,” Law said in a virtual briefing yesterday.

Limpin sought a more permanent and effective response to the pandemic other than imposing a lockdown.

“Lockdowns are really temporary measures… After more than a year, we have not really seen effective and permanent measures to contain the pandemic,” Limpin pointed out.

Aside from consistently complying with health protocols, Limpin stressed the need for the government to adopt a standardized contact tracing system.

“This is something that only the government can do that’s why we’re saying the local chief executives should quit calling attention to themselves or being hardheaded. They just need to follow what the IATF is recommending to them,” she added, noting each LGU has its own rules.

The government, Limpin said, should have long enforced stricter border control, especially among those entering or going out of the National Capital Region (NCR).

The DOH yesterday reported that intensive care utilization rates (ICUR) in four regions are now under “high risk” classification.

As of Aug. 3, DOH said the ICUR in Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Norte, Central Visayas and Calabarzon reached 70 percent.

Aside from the four regions under high risk, DOH said, the ICUR in five more regions – Northern Mindanao, Western Visayas, Central Luzon, Soccsksargen and Davao are under “moderate risk.”

Nationally, the ICUR is also at “moderate risk” with 62 percent occupancy.

Based on DOH data, the health care utilization rate (HCUR) in Ilocos, Western Visayas and Calabarzon are currently moderate.

But the national HCUR is still at low risk with 52 percent occupancy.

Hospitalization calls

Calls from people seeking hospitalization and other assistance from the government One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) ballooned in the past days.

“Looking at our census, we received Wednesday 730 calls and over 600 calls in the past three days,” OHCC operations chief Dr. Bernadette Velasco said in a virtual briefing yesterday.

The number of calls can increase further due to the expected surge brought about by the Delta variant, but Velasco said OHCC is ready to hire additional personnel to accommodate more calls.

Velasco said the average number of daily callers OHCC was only between 100 to 120. It went up to 300 last July then to over 600 this August.

She however noted that some of their clients are multiple callers. The bulk of calls came from the NCR followed by those from Calabarzon and Central Luzon.

More than half or 53 percent of the callers, Velasco said, are requesting assistance for isolation while 41 percent are in need of hospital referrals.

Meanwhile at the Senate, Sen. Sonny Angara supported calls for the government to settle swiftly the amount it owes to most of the country’s hospitals, which have been facing extreme pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. – Cecille Suerte Felipe

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