CAGAYAN DE ORO CHALLENGES

Lack of face masks, thermal guns hindering COVID-19 fight

By: Froilan Gallardo - Correspondent/CDN Digital | March 22,2020 - 09:30 AM

A health worker points a thermal gun at a motorist at the quarantine checkpoint in Alae, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon in this photo taken on March 21, 2020. | Froilan Gallardo

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines —The lack of masks, thermal guns and medical equipment have stymied efforts of health workers –putting their lives at risks—to fight the coronavirus.

At a quarantine checkpoint in Baloy, this city, policemen resort to spraying the hands of passing motorists with disinfectants because they do not have thermal guns.

Health workers manning the quarantine checkpoint in Alae, Manolo Fortich town have only one thermal gun for the hundreds of commuters entering the province of Bukidnon.

Have money, no supplier

Local governments, who are caught by surprise by the upsurge of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, are in quandary on where to buy thermal guns and other equipment to fight the deadly virus.

“We have the money and we want to buy more thermal guns, but there is no supplier who can get us some, “ Maricel Casiño-Rivera, Cagayan de Oro public information officer, said.

A week ago, Dr. Jose Chan, chief of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, has appealed for masks, gloves and alcohol for their medical staff.

A number of civic clubs and individuals have heeded the call and donated masks, gloves and even food for the hospital medical staff.

The shortage of face masks and alcohol has hit the ceiling in Cagayan de Oro that health officials are advising residents to wash their hands with soap as often as possible.

Read more: ‘Cloth face masks useless vs. 2019 novel coronavirus’

Others like the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) have commissioned several wives of their members to make masks made from discarded clothes.

Cloth masks, improvised face screens

COPC President Manny Jaudian said the cloth masks would be distributed to reporters and media workers who could not afford or could not find face masks in the city.

Others like former ABS-CBN station manager Donna Ocampo banded together with other executives to make improvised face screens made from plastic.

Ocampo and her fellow volunteers have distributed 200 face screens to the medical staff of the NMMC.

Read more: Coronavirus patient in Cagayan De Oro dies

Chan said the hospital did not have test kits and had to draw tissue samples from suspected COVID-19 cases.

He said the samples were shipped to Manila, and it would take 15 days for the results to be known.

This prompted fears that COVID-19 is lurking in the city’s suburbs and urban poor communities.

Rivera said the city government had plans to mount a house-to-house inspection to look for the virus.

“We have already organized the teams but we are still waiting for the thermal guns to arrive,” she said./dbs

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TAGS: Cagayan de Oro, cloth masks, Dr. Jose Chan, Face masks, gloves, rivera, thermal guns
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