Amid the deluge of healthcare workers getting infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the national government has started deploying personnel from the security sector to augment workforce in the hospitals.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, assured that the government “is taking the necessary steps” to address the increasing number of healthcare workers that are getting sick.

Part of their strategy is fielding personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) – particularly those with medical background – to sustain the operations of different healthcare facilities amid the surge of cases.

“We mobilize the armed forces, PNP, BJMP, and our Coast Guard to reinforce hospitals that lack healthcare workers,” Galvez said.

The AFP, PNP, BJMP, and PCG have their own pool of medical professionals which could add to the workforce of hospitals who are short with manpower, he said.

It was not clear though how many personnel are currently deployed in various medical facilities nationwide for this mission.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), around 6,600 health workers in Metro Manila, or 7.2 percent of the region’s personnel, were under quarantine as of Thursday.

“This is really a big challenge because even our health workers are getting sick,” Galvez admitted.

However, he noted that there is no reason to hit the alarm button yet since the government was continuously finding ways to address the lack of manpower in hospitals and other medical facilities.

“Do not panic. The IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force], mayors, and hospital directors are doing everything that they can to ensure the continuity of our healthcare treatment,” Galvez said.