At least 9 coronavirus frontliners dead due to lack of protective gear – group

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) — At least nine doctors have succumbed to COVID-19 while helping patients who have contracted the highly-infectious disease, the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) said on Thursday.

PHAPI President Dr. Rustico Jimenez told CNN Philippines the doctors were exposed to the virus due to the shortage of protective gear.

"Wala tayong mga PPE (personal protective gear). Kaya nga po siyam na, tingin ko sampu na ang namatay na doktor because wala tayong protection sa mga frontliners, especially the doctors," he said in an interview.

[Translation: We don't have PPEs. That's why nine, possibly 10, of our doctors have died because we cannot provide protection for our frontliners, especially the doctors.]

Among the frontliners who passed away during the COVID-19 war are Pampanga health chief Dr. Marcelo Jaochico, cardiologist and internist Raul Jara, young cardiologist Israel Bactol of the Philippine Heart Center, anesthesiologist Gregorio Macasaet III of Manila Doctors Hospital, and oncologist Rose Pulido of the San Juan de Dios Hospital.

Of the 38 deaths in the Philippines, nine were doctors.

He said the deaths could have been avoided if the Philippines prepared before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country's shores.

Jimenez appealed to the public to donate more PPEs to hospitals so the medical workers risking their lives will be more protected. Similar appeals have been made by several other hospitals. Several fashion designers have also started donating PPEs to address the shortage. 

"Mask, gown, goggles, para sa sapatos para protektado ang ating mga tao, para hindi nababawasan 'yung mga ating tao na nagsesebisyo sa ating mga pasyente," he said.

[Translation: Donate masks, gowns, goggles, cover for the shoes so your frontliners are protected, so we don't lose more people who are serving the public.]

The number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus disease in the Philippines climbed to 636. The number of patients who have recovered is now at 26.