THE GOVERNMENT is facing dwindling interest for its emergency hiring program for healthcare workers with fewer applications being submitted.

Wala masyadong nagkukuha ng slots na meron tayo (There are not many takers of the available slots),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said in an online briefing on Monday.

Nakikita kasi natin na yung ating hiring ay medyo nagpa-plateau, wala nang nadadagdag (We can see that the hiring is ‘plateauing’, there are no additions),”  she said.

Ms. Vergeire said the decrease in number of applicants is particularly evident for positions within the National Capital Region, which remains to have the highest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country.

“So we are looking for the other strategies also so that  we can further augment our healthcare workers in the hospitals,” she added.

Ms. Vergeire said almost 6,000 personnel have already been hired under the emergency program.

The health official said they are now working to partner with universities and other institutions to be able to hire medical graduates by batches for the program.

The emergency hires provide support to hospital workers.

Meanwhile, the increase in COVID-19 infections among healthcare workers is due mainly to community transmissions and not lack of protective equipment, Ms. Vergeire said.

She noted that most of the healthcare workers prefer to go home instead of staying at the dorms provided by hospitals.

“So we really assume right now, although further analysis is being done, na talagang (that it is really) because of community transmission,” she said in the same briefing.

She explained that the transmission is likely as they constantly travel between hospital and home.

Ms. Vergeire also said that infection prevention and control is being checked and monitored in medical institutions, and that there is adequate supply of personal protective equipment.

Based on the latest DoH situationer report, 4,443 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 as of July 25, with 505 new cases recorded from the previous week.

Of the total, 3,456 have recovered, 36 died, and 951 are active cases.

The country had 78,412 total confirmed cases as of July 25. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas