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  • COVID-19 Is Killing Doctors Because People Lie About Their Travel History

    At least 21 doctors in the Philippines have succumbed to the disease.
    by Kitty Elicay . Published Apr 11, 2020
 COVID-19 Is Killing Doctors Because People Lie About Their Travel History
  • The number of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continue to rise in the Philippines with at least 252 health workers contracting the disease, according to latest data from the Department of Health (DOH). Even more shocking is that at least 21 Filipino doctors have succumbed to the virus as of April 7, 2020, according to the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP).

    The reason for the staggering number is because some patients have lied “to doctors about their travel history or whether they were exposed to the virus,” Dr. Oscar Tinio, the spokesman and former president of the Philippine Medical Association told the National Public Radio (NPR) in an interview.

    DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire admitted to CNN Philippines that “some of them (doctors) died because their patients were not able to disclose their full information, thereby giving them that increased risk that’s why they got infected and eventually died.”

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    Lack of PPEs is also a major reason for doctors’ death

    The lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) has also increased health workers’ risk for exposure. “Most doctors got the disease because we lacked the necessary protective equipment to be used against it. And I think some doctors also felt invincible… but basically, I think we failed to protect ourselves — completely,” Dr. Tinio said.

    This shortage of PPE is experienced by many countries afflicted with COVID-19. According to the DOH, it’s because countries are also competing with each other to get supplies. But the agency has assured health workers that they are expanding the country’s PPE supply and ramping up efforts to build the public health sector’s capacity to handle COVID-19 cases.

    However, doctors from private hospitals are appealing that the government extend help to them as well.

    “’Wag naman lahat government hospitals lang ang bigyan nila ng PPE,” Dr. Rustico Jimenez, president of the PHAP said in an interview with GMA News.


    He adds, “Marami silang sinasabi na dumating na pero actually walang nakukuha ‘yung private hospitals, private consultants tayo, we buy our own kaso wala ring makuha.”

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    Be honest to your doctors

    In the Philippines, most COVID-19 patients have chosen to keep their identities a secret because of the stigma surrounding the disease. But Howie Severino, a veteran journalist and COVID-19 survivor says that “transparency is an obligation.”

    “It’s not fair to anyone who has had close contact with you,” Howie wrote in a piece for GMA News, adding that “contact tracing can go a long way in preventing its further spread.”

    Early detection is also crucial to increase your odds of recovering from COVID-19, says Suzi Garcia-Rufino, a mom of two who recently shared her survival story with SmartParenting.com.ph. "Early detection is better than going to the hospital na malala sa sila. Kaya rin siguro hindi na ako naintubate kasi maagap ang pagpunta ko sa hospital,” she shares.

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    In a previous interview, a local obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN), who knows government health policy but is not authorized to speak on an official capacity told Smart Parenting that by disclosing your travel history and exposure, health professionals can work harder to save patients. “We appeal to you to always be honest. There are also hotlines of different institutions you can call. Please follow the protocol as issued by DOH and your local government. This way, we save you, and you save us,” she said.

    If you suspect you have COVID-19 or are exhibiting symptoms, the DOH can provide free telemedicine consultations 24/7. Call +632 894-26843 (COVID) for free. Smart and PLDT subscribers can dial 1555 for free. For other networks, some charges may apply. Read more about it here. For more stories on COVID-19, click here.

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