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Filipinos’ ingenuity produces improvised face masks for health workers in the regions

Updated

By Hanah Tabios and Robert Requintana

If necessity is the mother of invention, ingenuity is surely its father. In these times of the coronavirus crisis, when front line health workers are running out of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to use, items like garbage bags and tissue papers commonly used to dispose dirt are shielding them against the virus in the most innovative way they can.

Frontline healthcare workers at Rural Health Unit in Virac, Catanduanes are improvising masks made out of tissue papers and rubber bands as they ran out of stocks. (Photo by Dr. Erica Jane De Leon / MANILA BULLETIN)

Frontline healthcare workers at Rural Health Unit in Virac, Catanduanes are improvising masks made out of tissue papers and rubber bands as they ran out of stocks. (Photo by Dr. Erica Jane De Leon / MANILA BULLETIN)

Erica Jane De Leon, a doctor to the barrio assigned to the Rural Health Unit (RHU) in Virac, Catanduanes, made an appeal online in hopes to help her fellow front liners in Bicol Region.

If others were improvising surgical or N95 masks from cloth, their situation is different – masks were instead made from pieces of tissue papers assembled using push pins and rubber bands.

Obviously, the materials used were not durable, especially in sustaining long hours of duty, but difficult times require “resourceful” solutions to partly resolve the problem.

We hope to serve our constituents very well, but we also need to protect ourselves because we have families waiting for us at home,” she said in a post.

The same ordeal was observed at St. Jude Hospital in Los Baños Laguna, where the post of hospital worker Maria Theresa Depano gained mixed reactions, most of which were urging the government, as well as the private sector, to intervene immediately.

With the scarcity of PPEs, the health workers and other essential personnel at the said hospital improvised their suit using plastics and trash bags.

“We are calling the attention of DOH or any agency that could provide us with personal protective equipment. We ran out of PPEs and we couldn’t purchase the item anywhere that’s why we improvised to protect our staff, Depano said

While it gathered most sympathies, the message from social media users was clear – “act now to save them.”

Dr. De Leon said those who wish to donate may contact her at 0943- 091-4841.

While those who wish to drop their donations at St. Jude Hospital, may contact the landline number (049) 536-1982.

Since Sunday, hundreds of medical front line workers have been placed under quarantine due to their exposure to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients, according to reports.

‘Retaso’ for face masks

Meanwhile, popular swimsuit designer Domz Ramos has turned small pieces of cloth (retaso) into face masks which his team has distributed to barangays and frontliners for the fight against COVID-19.

“So far, we have given some 2,000 face masks. Gumagawa pa rin kami (We are making more),” said Ramos, who is the official swimsuit designer for the Bb. Pilipinas beauty pageant, in an online interview Monday.

Made of cotton fabric, some of these face masks have been distributed to the Philippine General Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Children’s Hospital, and Qualimed Hospital.

Ramos said his staff members at DR Styles Fashion, relatives, and neighbors helped him make the face masks in Taguig City.

“While producing these face masks, we also practiced social distancing. We sanitized, that’s why these face masks are clean,” he said.

Ramos also donated face masks to frontliners during Taal Volcano eruption in January.

Ramos has been active in charity missions. He is behind the popular Christmas gift-giving activity for children dubbed “MaBarbie Doll ang Pasko Caravan” which is on its fourth year now.

His team and sponsors give away toys, dolls, and food to street children in Metro Manila and nearby areas during the holidays.

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