Referral center set up for severe virus cases
The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday called on all hospitals and medical centers in Metro Manila to submit promptly information on bed availability as the government launched a centralized hospital referral center for people severely ill with COVID-19.
Located at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) gymnasium in Makati City, the One Hospital Command Center is developing a database for hospitals in the metropolis with space for COVID-19 patients.
Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said the submission of space information to the database would be mandatory for all hospitals.
The database would serve as a bed tracker for the government in finding space for coronavirus cases needing hospitalization.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the referral center would be used to monitor hospital bed occupancy and decongest hospitals of mild and asymptomatic cases.
Duque said mildly ill and asymptomatic patients would be transferred to temporary treatment and monitoring centers.
Metro Manila hospitals have been reporting in recent days that they have already reached capacity amid the continuing rise in new coronavirus infections.
The DOH has instructed the hospitals to raise their COVID-19 capacity from 30 percent to 70 percent, but the agency itself has returned quickly with a report that the hospitals have reached the “danger zone,” a situation that, besides the plea of weary health workers for a “timeout,” has helped to prompt the government to place Metro Manila and four nearby provinces on moderate lockdown for two weeks.
As of Thursday, the DOH said 55 percent of intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients nationwide were occupied, while 31 percent of mechanical ventilators were in use.
The DOH also reported 3,561 additional infections, raising the national total to 119,460 cases, 50,473 of which were active.
Most of the additional cases were in Metro Manila, which had 2,041. Laguna had 222, Cebu 221, Cavite 100, and Rizal 81.
The DOH reported 569 more recoveries, bringing the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 66,837. The death toll, however, rose to 2,150 with the deaths of 28 more patients.
Of the newly reported fatalities, 10 died this month, 16 in July, and one each in June and May.
More referral centers
At the launch of the hospital referral center, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said similar centers would be set up in other regions.
“This center will manage and monitor which hospitals are full and those with vacancies and can still accept patients. This is very good because we can avoid situations where people who need treatment are turned away from hospitals,” Lorenzana said.
Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the task force against COVID-19, said the critical areas for transmission of the virus were “workplaces, economic hubs, and industries.”
“It seems the orientation of workers pertaining to public safety and minimum health standards is lacking,” Galvez said.
He said densely populated areas, “especially poor communities,” were vulnerable to spikes in coronavirus infection because residents, who “live in small houses,” could not observe physical distancing.
Galvez said 15 days were not enough to arrest the spread of the coronavirus but added that the government would work hard to reduce cases and deaths.
Part of the strategy, he said, was increasing the COVID-19 capacity of hospitals.
Galvez also announced that East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City would soon exclusively handle COVID-19 cases.
He said the DOH and the Department of Public Works and Highways were working together for the conversion of the medical center into a COVID-19-only hospital.
When converted, he said, the center would have 250 isolation and ward beds and 30 intensive care beds for coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, the DOH said the Philippines had taken the top spot in testing capacity for the new coronavirus in Southeast Asia.
As of Aug. 4, it said, the country’s 99 licensed laboratories had conducted 1.64 million tests, doing an average of 28,938 tests a day in the last seven days.
“This is significantly higher than Indonesia, which has tested a total of around 908,000 as of Aug. 4, and testing an average of 14,291 per day within the last seven days, according to Our World in Data,” the DOH said in a statement.
The Philippines’ total number of tests is 1.5 percent of its population of 107 million.
“This is a significantly higher percentage compared to Indonesia, which has tested around 0.34 percent of its total population, according to Our World in Data,” the DOH said. —WITH REPORTS FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE AND CONSUELO MARQUEZ
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