World

Coronavirus kills 9 Philippine doctors, medical staff overwhelmed

MANILA: The Philippine Health Department yesterday reported seven new coronavirus deaths and 71 new confirmed infections. It takes the country's confirmed cases to 707 and deaths to 45.

Among the dead were nine doctors, the country's top medical association said yesterday, as hospitals were overwhelmed and medical personnel 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.

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, but medical staff are warning there is a surge in cases.

The Philippine Medical Association said yesterday 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 front liners first and test them again after seven days. Doctors could be carriers themselves," Dr Benito Atienza, vice-president of the Philippine Medical Association said.

FULL CAPACITY

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.

As of Tuesday, just under 2,000 people had been tested in the Philippines 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.

CURFEW IN PHUKET

Emergency restrictions went into force in Thailand yesterday. Phuket was the first province to issue a curfew on Wednesday, lasting from 5pm till midnight.

Locals were urged to stay home while tourists were to stay at their hotels.

Alcohol consumption on the island's beaches and other public venues has also been banned, The Straits Times reported.

The authorities set up checkpoints on major roads linking provinces yesterday to increase screening. Entry by non-resident foreigners has also been banned. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD