Govt. to procure more PPE to address COVID-19 doctor deaths

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 5) — More personal protective equipment, or PPE, is on the way to prevent more deaths among doctors amid the coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19 Response Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez said.

So far, 17 doctors have died tending to patients infected with the virus, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) reported earlier.

According to the association, their deaths could have been prevented if there was enough personal protective equipment for health workers.

READ: Medical group cites protective equipment lack for death of 17 doctors

"We were not prepared for an onslaught of infection," PMA spokesperson and former president Dr. Oscar Tinio said Sunday in an interview on CNN Philippines. "'Yun 'yung isa sa pinaka matinding dahilan kung bakit nagkaganyan." [Translation: That's one of the biggest reasons behind the COVID-19 casualties among doctors.]

“We lost a lot of doctors and hopefully we don’t keep losing some more," he said.

Department of Health Spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire earlier said it's difficult to secure PPE, with other countries rushing to get their own supply leading to a global shortage of equipment.

However, Galvez assured they are normalizing the supply and demand of protective equipment in the country.

Approximately a million PPE have been ordered from China, he said.

30,000 sets are also set to arrive on Monday, from resort and casino Solaire.

The Philippine Air Force's C-130 aircraft will be picking up 12,000 sets of PPE, Galvez added. The government will also be charting Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific flights to transport supplies.

"We are solving the problem. We want to protect the doctors," he said.

PMA also urged patients to be transparent about their medical condition and travel history in order to mitigate the impact of the viral disease. Besides the shortage of PPE, Vergeire earlier cited patients not disclosing their full backgrounds as a reason behind health workers contracting the disease.