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Gov’t must build hospitals treating only COVID-19 cases

I cannot understand why, in the past five months, the government has failed to build hospitals that will cater only to new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients. The over 80 medical societies would probably have not called for a timeout if only there were enough hospitals to take in the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

Take the case of Wuhan City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, where authorities had to deal with over 50,000 confirmed coronavirus patients. Two COVID-19 only hospitals were built in just a matter of days. The first was Leishenshan with 1,500 beds and a medical staff of 2,000 (from outside Wuhan) housed in two structures. Next was Huoshenshan with a patient capacity of 1,000 patients and 1,000 medical personnel. Temporary hospitals were also constructed in Hongshan Stadium, Wuhan Salon and the International Convention and Exhibition Center among other areas. Aside from this, they built 11 temporary hospitals just for pneumonia cases.

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The pandemic is threatening to overwhelm the health-care system in Metro Manila, prompting our medical front-liners to ask the government to place the region again under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

If the number of cases continue to go up, infected people will have nowhere to go to seek treatment.

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We still have time, Mr. President. Let us build hospitals exclusively for COVID-19 patients.

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Looking at COVID-19 stats for Metro Manila, the cities with the highest attack rates (proportion of exposed people that become ill) are Navotas (1,538 cases) and San Juan (767) at 62 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

Next are Pasay (2,003) and Makati (1,483) both at 48 percent; Mandaluyong (1,817) at 47 percent and Malabon (1,528) at 42 percent. Manila (5,984) with its 1.7 million population has a 34 percent attack rate, same with Taguig (2,763) while Parañaque (2,191) is at 33 percent.

In 10th and 11th places are Quezon City (8,620) and Muntinlupa (1,483), both at 29 percent. Pasig (2,001) has 26 percent while the town of Pateros (162) has 25 percent. Valenzuela (1,346) and Las Piñas (1,290) are both at 22 percent.

The cities with the lowest attack rates are Caloocan (2,594) with just 16 percent and Marikina (911) with 20 percent.

These numbers tell us how the local government units are doing in their anti-COVID efforts.

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With the return of Metro Manila to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) today, we can’t help but compare the situation now to that of almost five months ago.

On March 15, we had only 200 COVID-19 cases yet the government immediately placed the region under ECQ the next day.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claims this decisive move by President Duterte stopped the cases from ballooning to 3.5 million as projected by experts from the University of the Philippines.

Today, there are thousands of infections reported daily, bringing the total to over 100,000 confirmed cases.

The daily positivity rate is at 14.1 percent, almost three times bigger than the World Health Organization’s positivity rate of 5 percent.

Yes, I acknowledge the government’s refusal to impose the stricter ECQ due to serious economic concerns, but even the decision to place Metro Manila under MECQ may not work as well as it did back in March.

Moving forward, everyone—businessmen, health workers, government and the public—should think and act as if we are all under ECQ so that local transmission will be minimized. We should all stay home within the next two weeks. For those who need to go out to work, protect your loved ones by wearing a face mask inside your home because you are a presumed COVID-19 carrier.

It is really difficult, but everybody should make sacrifices for our families and the nation. INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, COVID-19 hospitals, Jake J. Maderazo, Sharp Edges
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