Daily COVID tally nears 10K; more ‘pop-up’ hospitals set
As the country’s daily tally of new COVID-19 infections breached the 9,000 mark for the first time, the government on Friday said two more makeshift hospitals should be ready by next month to accommodate the surge in cases and ease the load of major hospitals in Metro Manila, some of which have already reached full capacity.
Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said two modular hospitals located in Quezon City and Batangas—so-called for their prefabricated structures, mostly repurposed freight containers—would start operations in April.
The one in Quezon City will have a 110-bed capacity and has been under construction near Quezon Institute (QI) since November last year. It should be fully operational by April 8, said Vega, the “treatment czar” of the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group.
“It will be managed by Jose [R.] Reyes Memorial Medical Center and will treat moderate and severe cases,” he said at an online briefing.
The second modular hospital is a 44-bed facility in front of Batangas Medical Center (BMC) and should be open by the second week of April.
The QI and BMC modular hospitals were the latest “pop-up hospitals” put up by the Department of Health (DOH) together with the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Among those already in operation are the 250-bed COVID-19 ward erected near East Avenue Medical Center last year, and another at Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial (Tala) Hospital in Caloocan City.
Risk classificationsVega said the department planned to put up another hospital, one that can offer up to 380 beds, as the medical community scrambles to find more space for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“We need to expand our capacity,” he said. “We have current proposals including increasing the capacity of modular hospitals and building more, for example at Lung Center of the Philippines, since they have a big space there.”
Vega said the utilization of COVID-19 wards and isolation beds in Metro Manila had reached moderate to high risk levels.
According to DOH classifications, moderate risk refers to hospital utilization of between 60 to 70 percent, while high risk refers to a utilization rate of 70 to 85 percent.
Hospitals that exceed 85-percent capacity are considered in a “critical” status.
Vega noted that, among the cities in Metro Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Taguig and Manila have reported a high level of admission to their respective COVID-19 wards.
The DOH aims to decongest hospitals by transferring mild and moderate cases to isolation facilities and lower-level hospitals, to make space for severe and critical cases in level 3 hospitals.
Level 3 hospitals are the most sophisticated institutions that have a high level of specialty intervention.
Vega also said temporary treatment and monitoring facilities in Metro Manila were just nearly full, at 78-percent capacity.
He said the government’s One Hospital Command Center hotline had been “overwhelmed with calls” and the staff’s mobile phones “ringing nonstop.”
He said the center did not have call forwarding technology, but that the staff had been trying to improve service by adding more lines and connecting calls to the separate COVID-19 hotline of the DOH.
The country on Friday logged a new record high in the daily COVID-19 tally, with 9,838 new cases.
The number was around a thousand cases more than Thursday’s reported 8,773 cases. On Saturday last week, the OCTA Research Group warned that the country may have 10,000 new cases daily by the end of the month.
Friday’s numbers also pushed the national total case load past the 700,000 mark.
Out of the 702,856 infections, there remained 109,018 active cases, of which the majority or 95.1 percent are mild, 3.0 percent are asymptomatic, 0.42 percent are moderate, 0.8 percent are severe and 0.7 percent are critical.
The DOH said 663 patients have recovered, bringing the total number of survivors to 580,689.
However, 54 patients died, raising the death toll to 13,149.
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