MALACAÑANG on Sunday, March 22, commended the "selfless and heroic deeds" of health workers as the Philippine medical community mourned the passing of three Filipino doctors who died from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Cardiologist Israel Bactol from the Philippine Heart Center, anesthesiologist Gregorio Macasaet III of Manila Doctors Hospital and an oncologist at the San Juan de Dios Hospital succumbed to the disease in the last two days.
The Philippine Heart Center (PHC), in a statement, confirmed Bactol's death and described him as "a casualty of this war" against Covid-19.
"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 association said.
The Philippine Medical Association (PMA), in a separate statement, said it "deeply mourns for our fallen colleagues who have died while serving on the front line in the fight against Covid-19."
"You are a great loss to the medical profession and to our country. We thank you dear doctors for finishing the race with a great fight," the group said.
In a Facebook post, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said Macasaet's wife Eva, who is also an anesthesiologist, has also contracted the virus and is in another isolation room.
David said Macasaet had already been intubated when he tried to call him. He instead reached the wife, who agreed to a pray-over through the phone.
David said there are at least 10 other doctors on the front line who are now themselves fighting for their lives.
As of Sunday, March 22, the Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 380 Covid-19 cases in the country, with 25 deaths. Many patients are still waiting for their test results.
At The Medical City, hospital president and chief executive officer Eugenio Jose Ramos said almost 150 of their health workers have been ordered to go into self-quarantine after they were exposed to Covid-19 patients.
"As of last night, placed under quarantine for 14 days were 95 nurses, 13 residents and fellows, 12 emergency room physicians and 24 house staff," he said.
"Medyo na-expose sila o pinapasigurado lang, pinapauwi namin baka na-expose…May nakabalik naman," he added.
Supplies running low
Ramos admitted that the Covid-19 pandemic is putting a strain on their resources and manpower.
He said The Medical City's intensive care unit (ICU) is full. Four patients under investigation (PUI) are currently hooked to a respirator in the ICU.
Ramos said they might run out of machines as more people seek treatment. They are already running low on personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks.
He said they have to regulate the use of their supplies to make these last while waiting for additional supplies.
"Kahit 'yung mga PPEs, N95, talagang lahat parang war time, stretched lahat," Ramos said.
"Ang supplies namin good for two weeks na lang," he said.
While they do not turn away patients, Ramos said people who suspect that they have contracted the coronavirus should seek help from other hospitals.
The Department of Health has designated the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital and Jose Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center (formerly Tala Leprosarium) as Covid-19 hospitals in Metro Manila.
At the Palace, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured support for all the frontliners, including the doctors and other health workers.