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‘We refuse to be sacrificial lambs:’ Nurses demand better gov’t response to pandemic as cases surge

(Philstar.com) – March 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A nurses’ group called on the government to recalibrate its response to the pandemic in the face of a surge in COVID-19 cases that they said have stretched them “to the limits.”

“We refuse to be sacrificial lambs to this pandemic. We are humans and we need to be cared for. We should be saved from this national calamity and public health disaster,” Filipino Nurses United (FNU) said Saturday in a statement. Related Stories COVID-19 task force adviser: New cases milder, but ‘whole households’ trooping to hospitals

“Nurses, doctors and co-health workers are victims themselves of a government COVID-19 response that is generally inefficient and mismanaged,” FNU added.

FNU called for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s resignation so he can be replaced by someone “more competent.”

They also said that uniformed personnel should step aside and let medical experts take control of the pandemic response.

The group said the government must use the funding allocated for its pandemic response to support healthcare workers by ensuring adequate staffing, transportation, accommodations, hazard pay and medical assistance for them and their families.

It added that additional nurses should be hired to address understaffing and that wage hikes and paid leaves of nurses in the private sector should be subsidized.

It also called for the regularization of contractual nurses and other health workers, arguing that they also perform the tasks of tenured staff and are exposed to the same risks.

The group again pleaded for mass COVID-19 testing, aggressive contact tracing, and improved quarantine services.

More than a year since Luzon was placed on lockdown to stem COVID-19 cases, the country is faced with a record-breaking surge which runs the risk of overwhelming the healthcare system.

Teodoro Herbosa, adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said that while new cases are milder, they still weigh down on the healthcare system as “whole households” are reporting to hospitals with the disease. — Xave Gregorio

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