WHO: Philippines’ High Number of Infected Healthcare Workers is ‘Worrisome’
In a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region COVID-19 incident manager Dr. Abdi Mahamud expressed the organization’s concern over the high number of healthcare workers infected with COVID-19.
According to the latest data from the Department of Health, a total of 766 Filipino workers are COVID-19 positive. This includes 339 doctors, 242 nurses, and 185 other healthcare frontliners. This represents around 13 percent of total COVID-19 infections in the country on April 17, when DOH’s announcement was made, which was 5,878 then. Today, the percentage of positive cases is approximately 11.6 percent as the number of cases is now at 6,599.
Twenty-two doctors have already died from the virus, accounting for approximately five percent of total COVID-19 fatalities in the country as of April 22.
The high percentage of infected workers is much higher than the average percentage of the entire Western Pacific Region, which accounts for 37 countries and areas in Asia and Australia.
“The worrisome trend we are seeing in the Philippines where the percentage of about 13 percent is worrisome,” said Mahaud. “In our region it is around 2-3 percent. The Philippines is a bit of an outlier.”
According to Mahamud, WHO and the DOH are working closely to get to the bottom of this growing issue. Mahamud said possible reasons could be the shortage of PPEs, improper use, or increasing positive cases overwhelming Philippine healthcare.
Medical frontliners with or without visible symptoms are included in the government’s mass testing initiative due to their exposure to the virus.