Health workers at high risk of COVID-19 infection

Published April 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Analou De Vera

Incomplete patient medical history and rendering long hours of service are among the factors why some health workers in the country have been infected with the COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday.

A nurse attend to a PUI at Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila. ( Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)
A nurse attends to a PUI at Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila. ( Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

“For healthcare workers, that’s given. The risk that they take is really high. Even in other countries, a certain percentage of their COVID-19 affected population are really healthcare workers. They are the ones who are really at risk of the disease because they care for our patients,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters.

Vergeire noted that some patients are not disclosing their full medical history.

“Our patients were not able to give their complete medical history. That started the increase in cases among doctors and other health workers. They were unaware that the patient had exposure or history. So they got the disease,” she said.

Another factor is the long-working hours of healthcare workers, said the DOH official.

“We are also looking at the length of their working hours. Sometimes they are on-duty for 24 hours,” said Vergeire.

“With less hours of work, they will have more time to rest, thereby ensuring high resistance to the virus. Also, this would mean less exposure to the risk of the virus being transmitted,” she added.

Vergeire also underscored that some healthcare workers contract the dreaded disease in the communities.

“Like, when they go home and they go back to work. They get the infection outside of their workplaces. Like what happened at RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) it did not happen inside the facility but outside. And the health worker brought the infection inside the facility,” she said.

The World Health Organization said that the number of infected healthcare workers in the country is “worrisome,” adding that it might be due to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and necessary training on how to use it.

Vergeire said that based on their observation, “it’s not really (because) of PPE,” adding that they believe that the health workers are following the guidelines on the usage of PPE set by the DOH.

“I don’t think any doctor really would treat a patient without PPE at all. Unless, the patient lied about his medical history,” she said.

Vergeire, meanwhile, assured that they will continue to provide PPE for healthcare workers.