Eight health workers have so far been temporarily sidelined from the battle to contain COVID-19 after testing positive for the virus.
In a live press conference on Tuesday, DOH XI regional director Dr. Annabelle Yumang said that three nurses and five doctors have been contaminated by the disease.
But Dr. Leopoldo Vega, Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) chief of hospitals, said that the three nurses are not from SPMC.
A doctor and another nurse in SPMC were infected when they broke protocols while responding to a patient in the emergency room. So far, they are only showing mild symptoms.
“The protocol is that when you try to resuscitate a person in the emergency room–because they resuscitated a patient in the emergency room–they did not put on their necessary PPEs (personal protective equipment),” he said.
“Their mindset at that time is that they thought the patient has no COVID-19. But we changed that mindset already. All people who come around should be seen as a positive patient even without the test results. This is to ensure that they wear their proper PPEs,” he added.
The DOH also said that some health workers are now being assessed for COVID-19.
He also said that they are set to test 50 frontliners a day to make sure that they are not handicapped with the disease. “This will also give them the confidence to work,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vega said patients who have pneumonia must be referred immediately to SPMC regardless if they are positive or not. “Refer patients with pneumonia to SPMC because it is part of the severe acute respiratory infection, which can also be a symptom of the disease,” he said.
If the patient tested negative, then they will be returned to the private hospital with a certification stamping it with a non-COVID-19 patient mark.
Meanwhile, health officials admitted that contact tracing is far from being accomplished.
“We are not even halfway through,” Dr. Cleo Fe Tabada, DOH XI medical officer of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance unit said during a live press conference on Tuesday.
She said that contact tracing takes a lot of effort and time, which makes it difficult since they are severely understaffed and have a wide area of coverage. However, the records kept by the different sectors have helped pinpoint the whereabouts of patients.
They are particularly paying attention to those who attended the cockfight derby in Matina New Galleria before the city-wide quarantine on March 15. She also credited the timely announcement to limit movements in Davao City to contain the damage.
“We are hoping people to stay at home and not go outside anywhere. This way we track all people in the trace-list. We will be able to quarantine them or isolate, and mainly, assess,” she said.