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PPEs for frontliners quickly depleting, health official says

A health official has appealed for donations as private and public hospitals are currently experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We need more PPEs for our frontliners,” Dr. Roy Ferrer, Department of Health (DOH) assistant secretary of health field implementation and coordinating team for Visayas and Mindanao, said in a Facebook live press conference of the DOH on Monday.

He said that health workers in the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) are now experiencing a scarcity of PPE supplies. He said that PPEs are much more needed these days following an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 in the region.

The SPMC is identified as the only hospital to cater to COVID-19 patients. Mayor Sara Duterte, in a previous report, said that this is to avoid other hospitals from being contaminated with the virus.

Ferrer said that the health workers need gloves, masks, goggles, disposable surgical gowns, caps, and disposable shoe covers.

“PPEs can help ease their fear of being contaminated with the virus, as they are the one who will be facing the patients,” he said.

He is also grateful to those who donated some PPEs for the health workers. However, these need to be replenished as disposable PPEs are designed to be discarded after 24 hours.

“These (pieces of) equipment are disposable, (and) that is why we are still experiencing shortages of supplies,” he said.

He also said that other private hospitals also need PPEs as the healthcare personnel might have interacted with asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.

However, the city mayor said that if there are suspected cases in some hospitals, they should immediately be endorsed to the SPMC.

“To those who can donate PPEs, we are accepting donations in our offices at DOH and City Health Office,” he said. “We need to help our frontliners so that they can also help these COVID-19 patients.”

Ferrer said 200 testing kits have arrived on Sunday.

DOH XI regional director Annabelle Yumang also said that 65 samples have already been tested by SPMC.

However, with the testing kits around, these samples will still be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medication (RITM) for validation. “Since we are still starting to have these test kits, we still need validation from RITM. We only have the initial test results, but we will send to RITM to see to it if the results match,” she said.

She also said that the RITM will be the one to decide if SPMC can do the testing alone and not send it to them anymore. “If RITM will be satisfied with the capacity of SPMC to do the testing, then they will tell us to allow the release of the confirmatory tests,” she said.

As of now, SPMC has been training its personnel for the testing process.

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