Immigration bureau appeals for masks, gloves for staff
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Sunday, March 22, appealed for help for its personnel in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the bureau's staff need donations of masks, gloves, and alcohol, adding that these supplies are vital for frontline personnel manning airports and seaports across the Philippines.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport alone has at least 800 personnel, who would each need two masks per day.
While they have received donations, the supplies are already slowly diminishing.
"We are sourcing masks, alcohol, and other PPEs (personal protective equipment), but we are honestly finding it hard to procure these as there is a worldwide lack of supply," Morente said.
Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said they have been coordinating with manufacturers to include the BI for priority delivery once supplies become available.
Even health workers, who are among the most vulnerable, are experiencing a shortage of PPE and other medical supplies. (READ: How to help healthcare workers, frontliners during coronavirus pandemic)
Doctors, nurses, and other staff have expressed fear and uncertainty regarding their safety. Immigration personnel are no different.
BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina said some of the bureau's frontline personnel worry they might get infected, adding that this is understandable as they are the ones who interact with arriving passengers.
"Our men have resorted to using makeshift or reusable face masks to protect themselves," he said.
As of Sunday, the Philippines has recorded 380 coronavirus cases, with 25 deaths and 17 recoveries. – Rappler.com