Nearly 3 months after virus outbreak, DOH releasing PPE use guidelines

MANILA, Philippines – Nearly 3 months after the outbreak of novel coronavirus in  the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday, April 7, said it was releasing guidelines on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for the public, especially the health workers. 

As of Tuesday, the Philippines has 3,764 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease, with 177 deaths and 84 recoveries. 

“Kasalukuyan pong pina-finalize ng DOH ang mga guidelines tungkol sa wastong paggamit ng mga personal protective equipment o PPEs depende sa kondisyon at sitwasyon,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press briefing. (READ: EXPLAINER: The PPE keeping our healthcare workers safe)

(We are currently finalizing the guidelines on the proper use of personal protective equipment or PPEs depending on the condition and situation.)

Duque said the guidelines would include the proper use of PPEs when inside hospitals and clinics, and passing an entry point or checkpoints. 

“Kasama rin sa guidelines kung anong uri ng PPE ang kailangang gamitin sa ating triage areas o sa contact tracing, maging sa pagtransport sa suspected o confirmed COVID-19 patients,” Duque said. 

(The guidelines will also include the types of PPEs to be used when in triage areas or doing contact tracing, even when transporting suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.)

According to Duque, the guidelines would be based on the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and local organizations with medical expertise.

Duque said that with the proper guidelines on the use of PPEs, the safety of our health workers can be ensured.

“Inaasahan natin na sa mga ganitong paraan ay magiging strategic ang paggmit natin ng PPEs habang sinisugurado natin ang kaligtasan ng ating mga health care workers lalo na at limited ang supply sa ngayon,” he added.

(We hope that in this way, our use of PPEs will be strategic while we ensure the safety of our health care workers at a time when we have limited supplies.) 

The DOH did not give a specific date on the release of the PPE guidelines. 

Meanwhile, at least 17 doctors died while battling the coronavirus disease, according to the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

In an interview, PMA Commission on Legislation chairman Dr Oscar Tinio said the deaths could have been prevented if there was enough supply of PPEs for the health workers. 

On March 30, the DOH announced that it has acquired 1 million sets of PPEs amounting to P1.8 billion to be distributed to hospitals all over the country. The PPE set included a head gear, goggles, N95 masks, gloves, aprons, and a laboratory gown.

On April 6, the government’s coronavirus task force announced that local garment factories will start producing 10,000 PPEs after Holy Week or on April 13.–

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.