DOH appeals: Stop discriminating against health workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 24) — Healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus disease are facing another battle.

The Department of Health on Tuesday said some of them are being evicted from their rented living quarters as landlords fear they might spread COVID-19. 

"Ang concern na pong ito ay pinarating natin sa ating inter-agency task force para maimbestigahan at masolusyonan ng mga concerned national agencies," Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said in an online press briefing on Tuesday.

[Translation: We have reported this concern to the inter-agency task force so this will be investigated and solved by concerned national agencies.]

Vergeire, who is also the DOH spokesperson, appealed to the public to support medical personnel who are on the frontline of the defense against COVID-19.

"Hindi po ito ang panahon para talikuran natin ang ating healthcare workers (This is not the time to turn our backs on our health care workers)," Vergeire said.

"Sila po ay nag-iingat pa rin para hindi makapanghawa ng iba. So sana po 'wag naman po natin itong gawin sa ating mga healthcare workers," she said, adding that medical professionals are taking extra precaution for infection prevention and control.

[Translation: They are careful not to infect other people. So let's not do this to our healthcare workers.]

Vergeire called on local government units for help.

"Kung sakasakaling nagkakarooon tayo ng ganitong diskriminasyon sa ating healthcare workers baka naman po pwede nilang tulungan na magkaroon po tayo espasyo para sa kanila para magkaroon sila ng tuluyan at sila ay makapagpahinga," she said.

[Translation: If ever there are cases of discrimination of healthcare workers, please give them space where they can take shelter and rest.]

Earlier, the Manila City government ordered all hotels and motels in the city to give free accommodation to health workers, particularly those who live outside Manila amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Mass transportation is suspended, so health workers are forced to find ways to get to work if transportation is not provided by the local government.

The Philippines now has 552 COVID-19 cases. Of this number, 35 have died while 20 have recovered.

A number of doctors have succumbed to COVID-19 after handling infected patients. The latest is Dr. Raul Diaz Jara, an esteemed cardiologist and internist who served as president of the Philippine Heart Association.

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 also passed away recently, according to state-owned Philippine News Agency.

The Philippine Heart Center also disclosed on Tuesday that eight of its personnel have tested positive for COVID-19. They are among 10 COVID-19 patients being treated in the hospital.