By Macon Araneta

One out of five or 20 percent of those who got infected with COVID-19 is a health worker.  

Majority are doctors, said Health Undersec. Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

During her virtual press brief, Vergeire said the additional positive cases as of May 1 is 284, which included 41 new recoveries and 11 new deaths. The total number of patients who recovered from the new coronavirus 1,084 and the death toll is 579. 

Meanwhile, she said the number of health workers that tested positive for the new coronavirus as of May 1 climbed to 1,694.

Based on the DoH’s latest tally, 33 healthcare workers died and 256 of them got well from the virus. 

Of the 33 deaths, Vergeire said, 24 of them are doctors and seven, nurses. 

As of April 30, 65 health workers at the National Center for Mental Health contracted the virus. Three recovered while 36 were quarantined.

At the Research Institute for Tropical Medicines, she said 45 got infected, 38 recovered and seven were quarantined. 

The National Kidney Institute has nine positive cases for its health workers, one recovery and nine under quarantine.

Vergeire said there are other confirmed cases for COVID-19 in other hospitals. But the Lung Center of the Philippines has not reported any who have tested positive for the disease. Its last case has been discharged last March 28.

The DoH official said the other affected healthcare workers are nursing assistants, medical technologists, radiologic technologists, midwives, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and such other health personnel as barangay health workers, administrative aids or utility workers.

If this trend continues, Vergeire warned, there will be a scarcity of doctors and other health workers to care for COVID-19 patients.

To stop the health workers from getting infected, she said they regularly remind public and private hospitals to check inventory of their personal protective equipment (PPE). 

During their everyday virtual press brief, the Health official said they have been announcing the numbers of the DoH’s PPE and their distribution.

Also, they have been constantly reminding health workers about the guidelines on infection control and prevention measures like the proper wearing of PPE as provided by the World Health Organization and health experts. 

Earlier, she raised the possibility that some health workers got infected with the new coronavirus due to the improper wearing and doffing of PPE.

“We in the Health department believe that we will continue to reduce the number of health workers who acquire the COVID-19 if we are more careful and compliant with protocols,” she said.

A World Health Organization official earlier raised concern over the relatively high percentage of health who contracted the virus in the Philippines, citing that the regional average is only within the two to three percent range.