Hospitals running out of COVID-19 beds – DOH
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday warned that the country’s health system is “close to being overwhelmed,” as the hospitals, particularly in Metro Manila and Calabarzon, are running out of beds for COVID-19 patients.
As of July 26, the country is already at the “warning zone” level, as 52.3 percent of the 16,388 COVID-19 beds nationwide, or 8,577, are occupied.
The occupancy rate in private hospitals is 57.7 percent, while in public hospitals it is 49.5 percent.
“Nationally, our health system is close to being overwhelmed, our doctors, nurses and others who look after us in hospitals are growing tired. That is why we appeal to everyone to follow the minimum health standards, and to just stay at home if there’s nothing important to do outside,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
‘Danger’ in Metro
Metro Manila is the lone region whose bed capacity is at the “danger” level, as 82.2 percent of its 5,232 COVID-19 beds are occupied.
Areas that are on the warning zone are Calabarzon (64 percent occupancy), Central Luzon (52.1 percent), Davao (46 percent), Central Visayas (44.4 percent), Ilocos (33.8 percent), Western Visayas (31.7 percent) and the Cordillera Administrative Region (30 percent).
Vergeire stressed that while the COVID-19 beds are slowly filling up, their current number is still below the ideal that the DOH wants.
Under DOH Administrative Order 2020-0016, at least 30 percent of public hospital beds and 20 percent of private hospital beds should be dedicated to COVID-19. Currently, only 21.4 percent of public beds and 10.1 percent of private beds are allotted for COVID-19 cases.
“This is still not enough that’s why we are discussing in the agency how we can further ramp up capacity. This includes the further expansion of our One Hospital Command,” Vergeire said.
“Through the One Hospital Command system, we are fixing the referral system for both public and private to ensure that the hospitals don’t exceed capacity. Through this system, we are strengthening the coordination between hospitals and the temporary treatment and monitoring facilities so we can transfer those patients who do not need a higher level of care,” she said.
Make more space
While the system is seen as dealing with space problem in Metro Manila and Calabarzon hospitals, Vergeire reiterated the DOH call for hospital administrators to allocate more beds for COVID-19 patients.
In Metro Manila, public hospitals have only set aside for COVID-19 cases 18.4 percent of their beds, while private hospitals allocated 16.9 percent of their beds. The allocation of private beds in Calabarzon is much lower at 9.7 percent.
Of the 8,786 available slots, the DOH has so far hired 6,050 health workers, most of whom are deployed in government-run hospitals.
On Tuesday, the DOH reported 1,678 additional coronavirus infections, bringing the national case tally to 83,673. Of the new infections reported by 81 of the 91 accredited laboratories, Metro Manila had the highest number of cases, 698, followed by Laguna (218), Cebu (100), Cavite (87) and Davao del Sur (33).
The DOH reported that 173 more patients had recovered, raising the number of recoveries to 26,617. The death toll, however, increased to 1,947, as four more patients succumbed to the severe respiratory disease.
Of the newly reported deaths, two died in July while the two others died in June. The fatalities are from Metro Manila and Central Visayas.
Lower positivity rate
Meanwhile, Vergeire maintained that the DOH had “no intention of deceiving the public” when it came out with an infographic that shows the country now has a much lower positivity rate of 8.8 percent compared to the 22.2 percent recorded on April 30.
The positivity rate indicates the percentage of people who have tested positive for the virus from all those who underwent testing.
In her personal Facebook account, Vice President Leni Robredo called out the DOH for its alleged “attempt to mislead” the public and “sugarcoat the truth.”
“This pandemic should be an opportunity for us to unite and fight this out together. Any attempt to disregard facts and claim victory while so many are still getting sick with the virus will diminish that opportunity,” Robredo said.
“[D]espite the fact that we have [ramped] up our tests already, [the] cumulative positivity rate is still at more than 8 percent. In fact, for July 25, daily positivity rate was at more than 12 percent. Goal should be at less than 5 percent,” she added.
Vergeire said that when the DOH came out with the infographic, it just “wanted to show that there had been changes in terms of testing capacity.”
“The reason why the numbers have been declining is because there are now more laboratories able to conduct tests, a sign that we are able to respond to the pandemic as one nation. There’s no deceit there,” she said.
“The department has no intention of deceiving the people since we release all the important data that can be used for analysis,” she added.
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