More than 670 healthcare workers in the Philippines have been quarantines amid fears that they have been exposed to the virus while other workers have resorted to using big bags for protection as cases of novel coronavirus are soaring across south-east Asia.
Over 50 million individuals are under lockdown in the Philippines and medical facilities are struggling with the lack of shortages of testing kits and lack of protective equipment.
Two major hospitals, the University of Santo Tomas Hospital and the Medical City have quarantined 674 healthcare workers over fears they were exposed to the coronavirus, adding strain onwards. Deaths of two doctors are confirmed across the country.
Different countries have reported a wave of new cases across the region including Indonesia, where their president Joko Widodo acknowledged that there is an urgent need to ramp up testing. Fearing the increase in the number of cases, the Philippines has turned its athlete’s village which was built for Asian Games into the emergency hospital with the capacity of more than 4,000 people.
Indonesia has so far reported 514 infections and 48 deaths due to COVID-19. Whereas in the Philippines, the death toll has raised incite speculations that cases are more than the official records. There have been 396 confirmed cases and 33 reported deaths and hundreds of patients are suspected to have the infection.
Healthcare workers are using bin bags for protecting themselves. Health staff are calling the attention of the department of health and other agencies that can provide the personal protective equipment as they have run out of enough supplies.
Hospitals in Manila have appealed for the donations. Health officials said the lack of personal protective equipment is due to global shortages of supplies instead of lack of funding of aid.
In Jakarta, preventive measures for stopping the virus spread were rolled out from Monday as the governor Anies Baswedan declared an emergency for the next two weeks. All entertainment settings, restaurants have been closed and businesses urged to close offices and urged to work from home where possible.
President Joko Widodo has resisted calls for the lockdown in affected areas despite tough restrictions have been introduced in other areas. Malaysia, where 1,306 cases have been confirmed, has introduced a two-week lockdown after the sudden rise in the case. Majority of these recent cases are linked to a mass rally at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, attended by 16,000 individuals. Ten deaths have been confirmed.
The sudden spike in the number of infections has been observed in Thailand that has reported 122 recent cases, taking the total cases to 721. The spread of the virus is feared as people on the move could spread the virus to the other provinces in Thailand or to other countries including Myanmar or Cambodia, where many migrants workers are returning.
It is feared that the vast numbers of people on the move could spread the disease to provinces elsewhere in Thailand, or to countries including Cambodia or Myanmar, where a lot of migrant workers are returning.
Cases imported by foreign travellers are a growing concern in Vietnam as the cases linked to international flights have emerged there.
Singapore also placed restrictions and closing its borders to short-term visitors and some foreign workers.
Preventive measures following the warnings issued by the WHO, for the countries in south-east Asia for introducing more aggressive and the whole of society efforts to stop the spread of novel coronavirus.