9 doctors die from coronavirus in Philippines

9 doctors die from coronavirus in Philippines
A photo taken on Jan 31, 2020 shows a hospital employee don protective gear inside a holding area at the Manila Doctors Hospital compound in Manila.

MANILA - Nine doctors have died in the Philippines from the new coronavirus, the country's top medical association said on Thursday (March 26), as hospitals were overwhelmed and medics complained about a lack of protection on the front lines. 

The announcement of the doctors' deaths heightened fears that the scale of the health crisis in the Philippines is much worse than is being officially reported, with the confirmed virus death toll at 45.

The main island of Luzon, home to 55 million people, is in the second week of a lockdown to contain the spread of the disease, however medics are warning there is a surge in cases.

The Philippine Medical Association said on Thursday that a ninth doctor had died of the virus, and that health workers were not getting enough protection.

"If it were up to me, test the frontliners first and test them again after seven days. Doctors could be carriers themselves," Dr Benito Atienza, vice-president of the Philippine Medical Association said.

Three large Manila hospitals announced on Wednesday that they had reached full capacity and would no longer accept new coronavirus cases.

Hundreds of medical staff are no longer accepting patients because they are undergoing 14-day self-quarantines after suspected exposure, the hospitals said.

Just under 2,000 people had been tested in the Philippines as of Tuesday from those with severe symptoms and those considered most vulnerable to Covid-19, such as the elderly, those with life-threatening ailments, and pregnant women.

Meanwhile, the Philippine health ministry on Thursday recorded seven new coronavirus deaths and 71 new confirmed infections, Reuters reported.

It brings the country’s confirmed cases to 707 and deaths to 45 so far, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a regular news conference. He said case numbers would rise in the coming days as more tests are carried out.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

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