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252 Manila health workers contract Covid-19

Fears grow over a shortage of doctors and nurses as more go into isolation amid the pandemic

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252 Manila health workers contract Covid-19

A volunteer disinfects a vehicle in Philippine capital Manila in this file photo. (Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP)

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As many as 252 health workers in Philippine capital Manila have tested positive for Covid-19, the country’s Department of Health confirmed on April 8.

Of that number, 65 percent, or 152, were doctors, while 25 percent, or 63, were nurses. The rest were medical staff including janitors and clerks.

At least 21 doctors have died in the Philippines, while 16 are in critical condition.

“Health workers who died of Covid-19 are those with patients who lied to their doctors about their travel history. Patients are afraid to undergo quarantine or do not want to pay medical bills, so they would rather lie to their physician. The effect, however, is very sad as many of us are contracting the virus in this manner,” said Ronald Macapinlac, a doctor in Pampanga province.

Macapinlac said the number of physicians and medical staff who have contracted the virus and are under quarantine is alarming.

“This only means that more health workers have to isolate themselves. In effect, we have fewer health workers now serving in hospitals across the country, not to mention the fact that they could be carriers of the virus as well,” he added.

Alarm is beginning to spread to hospitals outside Manila, where most cases have been reported.

“I hope the government will not only limit resources to Manila. Now even private hospitals in the provinces are forced to beg for donations because there are not enough protective equipment and ventilators for everyone in a pandemic like this,” Carla Generoso, a physician in Pampanga, told UCA news.

Meanwhile, military chaplains led an interfaith prayer against the spread of the coronavirus on April 8. Religious leaders in Manila came together to recite a deliverance prayer to end the pandemic.

Bishop Oscar Florencio of the Military Ordinate of the Armed Forces of the Philippines represented Catholics, while Muslim, Buddhist and Protestant groups were also present.

“The AFP chaplains will assist to invoke the mighty help of God as we plead with him to heal those affected by Covid-19 and to spare us from this present pandemic,” the prelate said.

As of April 8, the Philippines had recorded 3,870 Covid-19 cases with 182 deaths, according to government figures.

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