The Philippines has reported a sharp increase in confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with the death toll now at 33. The country has also seen the fall of front liner health workers amid the coronavirus fight, with three doctors succumbing to the infection.
In the battle against the novel coronavirus, many doctors and nurses have lost their everyday lives. They are widely regarded as modern-day heroes, risking their health to help those who are infected. In the Philippines, the sharp increase of coronavirus cases has overwhelmed the health care system, with health care workers most at risk due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Over the weekend, the country reported three of its doctors had succumbed to complications from the COVID-19 disease.
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a VERO E6 cell (blue) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (orange), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID
The government has commended the selfless and heroic deeds of health workers who serve as front liners in the war against COVID-19. The medical community in the country mourns the passing of the three doctors in the past week.
Dr. Israel Bactol is the youngest casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. A cardiologist from the Philippine Heart Center, Dr. Rose Pulido, an oncologist from the San Juan de Dios Hospital, and an anesthesiologist, Dr. Gregorio Macasaet III of Manila Doctors Hospital.
The Philippine Heart Center (PHC) confirmed the death of Dr. Bactol and honored him as he lost his young life while fulfilling his duties as a doctor.
“It is a sad day for the whole association as we have lost one of our own in the fight against COVID. He is a casualty of this war. We honor him as he lost his young life while fulfilling his duties as a doctor, a young cardiologist, and a dedicated member of PHA,” the PHA said.
“Please pray for the eternal repose of his soul. Please pray for all our members and all our other doctors and healthcare workers in the frontlines and all the people who are afflicted by the disease. We lost a young, brilliant, promising doctor in this battle. You are our hero!”, the association added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Medical Association deeply mourns its fallen colleagues who risked their lives while serving other people in the fight against COVID-19.
Philippine’s fight against COVID-19
The country is still in a state of shock, as the government flows emergency funding to fight the virus and provide assistance to health workers and those on the front line.
As of writing, there are 396 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but the number is expected to increase with the arrival of more testing kits. Some of the patients had died even before their results were confirmed positive for the disease.
The Department of Health also confirmed that there are 33 COVID-19 related deaths in the country, prompting measures to detect and trace those who are infected to prevent the spread of the virus.
Further, health officials scramble to track about 215 people who attended a religious gathering in Malaysia that has drew 16,000 Muslims from 30 countries. The religious event has been linked to the sudden increase of cases in Malaysia as it reports 1,306 confirmed cases.
The Tablighi Jamaat congregation was held between Feb. 27 and Mar. 1 at the Sri Petaling Mosque on Kuala Lumpur.
Authorities are scrambling to trace the Filipinos who attended a religious event in Malaysia, which has been linked to a spike in COVID-19 cases in several countries across Southeast Asia.
Testing key to coronavirus fight
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that testing is essential in conjunction with the lockdowns in most countries affected by the coronavirus.
The WHO is now working with agencies from around the world to ensure the availability of testing kits.
“To support our call to test every suspected case, we are also working hard to increase the global supply of diagnostic tests. There are many companies globally that produce diagnostic kits, but WHO can only buy or recommend kits that have been evaluated independently, to ensure their quality,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General, said.
“So we have worked with FIND – the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics – to contract additional labs to evaluate new diagnostics. In parallel, we’re working with companies to secure the supply and equitable distribution of these tests. And we’re also working with companies to increase the production of the other products needed to perform the tests, from the swabs used to take samples to the large machines needed to process them,” he added.