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Exhaustion could make healthcare workers more prone to COVID-19, doctor says

Exhaustion could make healthcare workers more prone to getting infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a doctor who advocates for mass testing said Monday.

In a virtual media forum, Dr. Minguita Padilla of Project ARK (Antibody Rapid Test Kit) said that exhaustion weakens a person's immune system, hence making them more susceptible to catching infections.

"When you're overworked and exhausted, your immune system goes down. So an overworked healthcare worker is an immunocompromised person who's exposed to a heavy viral load," she said.

Project ARK is a private sector initiative that promotes mass testing as part of a comprehensive strategy to reopen the economy after the lockdown.

Data from the Department of Health showed that as of May 24, a total of 2,369 healthcare workers in the country have already contracted COVID-19, 1,118 of which have already recovered while 1,220 were active cases or undergoing treatment.

The five medical professions with the highest number of COVID-19 cases were nurses with 866 infections, doctors with 676, nursing assistants with 143, medical technologists with 88, and radiologic technologists with 43.

The death toll, meanwhile, has remained at 31 since May 10.

Padilla said exhaustion may be one of the reasons the number of health workers contracting COVID-19 in the Philippines was higher than other countries.

Iloilo Representative Janette Garin said that the government should acquire more automated COVID-19 testing machines so that healthcare workers will no longer have to carry the bulk of the job and get overworked.

"The automated machines are not that expensive. And if the government will not have the budget to buy it, then donors can actually come into the picture. It's just a matter of accepting, coming up with a platform wherein the private sector and the government can work together," Garin, former Health secretary, said.

"We have to do away with tedious bureaucratic requirements that actually drive away the donors because the hospitals are very willing to capture and to accept these donations. Medical technologists, even pathologists and the people in the laboratory are getting drained," she added.

As of May 25, a total of 14,319 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Philippines, with 873 deaths and 3,323 recoveries.  —LDF, GMA News