• Fifteen health workers in the Philippines tested positive for COVID-19 after being inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine
  • The vaccine helped prevent the development of severe symptoms in the COVID-19 patients, health officials said
  • The health workers, except for one, were either asymptomatic or only experienced mild symptoms

A total of 15 health workers in the Philippines have tested positive for COVID-19 after being vaccinated against the virus. The infected health workers are all medical frontliners from the Pasay City General Hospital (PCGH) who received the China-made Sinovac vaccine.

The development came following a sudden surge in coronavirus cases in the Philippines, local news outlet ABS-CBN News reported. However, except for one "moderate risk" case, the majority of the COVID-19 infected health workers were either asymptomatic or only experienced mild symptoms, according to PCGH officer-in-charge Dr. John Victor de Gracia.

De Gracia noted that the Sinovac vaccine helped prevent the development of severe symptoms in COVID-19 patients, thus helping majority of the health workers avoid hospitalization.

"I am thankful that we were vaccinated ahead of our virus infection that is why we did not experience anything bad from it. To be honest, if this happened before we got vaccinated, maybe some of us were already critically ill," the doctor was quoted as saying by the news outlet. "They were among the city’s health workers who received their first dose of Sinovac that was given by the national government."

Following the sudden surge of coronavirus cases in the country, a number of hospitals in the Philippines are now at full capacity and recently declared that they are unable to cater to additional cases due to a lack of beds and resources.

On March 20, the Philippines experienced its highest recorded case count in a day, amounting to 7,999 new COVID-19 cases, according to a statement from the nation's Department of Health. The report preceded the government's call for the public to suspend all non-essential travel and to follow minimum public health standards with strict adherence.

With the continued rise in the number of cases observed in the country, the DOH strongly urged the population to remain at home in the coming days as it faces a threat of increased transmission during Holy Week, which began Sunday. Authorities suggested opting for online masses in the meantime.

"The DOH emphasizes that the number one objective right now is to ensure care is not hampered nor delayed for COVID and non-COVID patients," the statement read.

The department continued, "To do this, we need to ensure that our hospitals do not get overwhelmed, so everyone must act with extreme vigilance and help reduce transmission by consistently adhering to our preventive measures, as well as following our quarantine and isolation protocols."

The Philippines has reported over 720,000 COVID-19 cases and 13,170 deaths as of Monday.

The tighter restrictions impact a fifth of the population of the Philippines
The tighter restrictions impact a fifth of the population of the Philippines AFP / Jam STA ROSA