Health workers say they should be tested for coronavirus regardless of symptoms | Inquirer News

Health workers say they should be tested for coronavirus regardless of symptoms

/ 11:09 PM April 17, 2020

Nurses wearing protective gears prepare the holding area for possible case of coronavirus disease at Ospital ng Parañaque along Quirino Avenue in Parañaque City.
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

MANILA, Philippines — A group of health workers has asked the government to implement mass testing among their ranks regardless whether nurses and doctors and other health practitioners have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.

According to the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) on Friday, testing must be made available to those in the health service, especially since at least 766 health workers — 339 doctors and 242 nurses — have contracted the latest coronavirus strain.

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The Department of Health (DOH) said in a statement last Tuesday that only patients and healthcare workers who exhibit mild, severe, and critical symptoms would be prioritized in the expanded mass testing.

“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 the frontliners should be checked regularly and must be a coronavirus free since they are the ones taking care of the patients,” AHW said in a Facebook post.

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“AHW is extremely concerned about the rapid increase in the number of positive cases and deaths among health workers in hospitals and health facilities,” the group added.

During its press briefing earlier, the DOH released the data on health workers with COVID-19.  Presently, 22 doctors and nurses who were tending to coronavirus patients have succumbed to the disease.

AHW President Robert Mendoza said that the high infection rates are aggravated by the lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs) that would shield them from the virus.

“Who will provide quality healthcare to our patients if our healthcare providers become patients too. The government must immediately distribute PPE to ensure and protect health workers, hire and train more additional permanent health workers, and increase the public hospital budget,” Mendoza added.

The Philippines has one of the highest COVID-19 cases and mortality rates in the Southeast Asia region, currently with 5,878 patients — 387 of which have died while at least 487 recovered from the disease.

Worldwide, over 2.15 million individuals have been infected, while 145,054 have died from the disease and 537,663 have recovered from it.

AHW said that the government should listen to the suggestion of health workers, and not treat them as “blind followers” who would listen to every order they issue.

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“AHW believes that this fight against coronavirus will never succeed if government does not allow full participation of the people in the whole process of planning, decision making and implementation of laws, policies and programs of government at all levels,” the group said.

“Government authorities should not treat and view its people as mere blind followers of their decisions, hard-headed, and worse, their enemies. Instead, provide them what they need especially food, so they will stay at home and will practice social distancing,” they added.

Edited by JPV
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