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Philippine medical workers under strain as Covid-19 cases jump

  • Published at 03:49 pm August 13th, 2021
Philippines Covid-19
Residents queue to receive cash assistance from the government following the imposition of two-week lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus Delta variant, at an evacuation centre, in Manila on August 11, 2021 Reuters

The health ministry recorded 13,177 new coronavirus infections on Friday

The Philippines reported on Friday its second-largest daily increase in Covid-19 infections, providing more evidence of how the virulent Delta variant may be spreading and ramping up pressure on the country's already stretched healthcare system.

Hundreds of hospitals in the country are nearing full capacity, with some facilities reporting they have run out of intensive care unit beds for Covid-19 patients, leaving health care workers, who are forced to work longer hours, exhausted.

"Usually, the nurse to patient ratio in wards is one to five, but we are handling up to 12 patients," said Maria Caridad delos Reyes, a staff nurse at the Philippine General Hospital, whose eight-hour shift now sometimes extend to 16 hours.

The health ministry recorded 13,177 new coronavirus infections on Friday, the highest since a record daily tally of 15,310 on April 2, bringing total cases to 1.71 million, the second highest in Southeast Asia next to Indonesia.

The Manila capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities that is home to 13 million people, remains under a strict lockdown to contain the spread of Delta, while the government tries to speed up its vaccination drive.

It would take two to three weeks before the impact of the lockdown is felt, health ministry spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told a media briefing, as she urged the public to get vaccinated and follow health protocols.

With about 11% of the country's 110 million people fully immunized, millions remain highly vulnerable to Covid-19, which has killed more than 29,800 in the Southeast Asian country.

The Philippines also announced on Friday it will extend a ban on travellers from India and nine other countries to the end of August to try to contain Delta.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed at least 4,333,013 people worldwide since the virus first emerged in late 2019, according to an AFP compilation of official data.

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