Private hospitals' group flags shortage of nurses as threat of Delta variant looms

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — As the country braces for another possible surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant, a private hospitals' group bares their biggest struggle: the lack of manpower.

"Ang limitasyon lang po ng private hospitals of course right now ay 'yung dami, availability ng mga nurse namin at mga nursing staff," Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. president Dr. Jose Rene de Grano said in a televised government briefing.

[Translation: The limitation of private hospitals of course right now is the number and availability of our nurses and nursing staff.]

He bared that many nurses resigned from private hospitals after the surge in COVID-19 cases in March and April, perceived to be driven by the Alpha and Beta variants first discovered in the United Kingdom and Africa, respectively. The surge led to lower bed capacities in some hospitals, he added.

Delta, which was first discovered in India, is said to be the most transmissible among all variants. It is also seen as the driver of the deadly surge in COVID-19 cases in India and Indonesia.

READ: Indonesia is battling a devastating Covid-19 crisis. And its peak is likely still to come 

"Pag dumami po ang kaso ng moderate at critical, doon po magkakaproblema talaga," said de Grano. "Mahihirapan ang mga pribadong ospital, kahit po ang government hospitals kasi ang kailangan po dito sa mga kasong ganyan ay mga nursing staff na magma-manage sa ating mga COVID cases."

[Translation: Once the moderate and critical cases increase in number, that's when we'll be having a problem. Private hospitals and even government hospitals will have a difficult time because what is needed here are nursing staff that will manage our COVID cases.]

Research group OCTA earlier cautioned of a resurgence in coronavirus infections in the country, with daily tallies matching the peak observed a few months ago, once the feared variant spreads in Metro Manila. 

To date, there are three recorded fatalities due to the Delta variant in the country.