Robredo: Data on vacant COVID-19 hospital beds far from reality on the ground
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has questioned the accuracy of the Department of Health (DOH) data on available hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, claiming it differs from the reality that patients were experiencing on the ground.
According to Robredo, they have been receiving distress calls from people struggling to find hospitals for their coronavirus-infected relatives — stressing that hospitals currently being considered by them were as far as Nueva Ecija, Laguna, and Batangas.
DOH’s COVID-19 bulletin on Monday showed that intensive care units (ICU) beds allocated to patients are 76 percent occupied, while isolation beds are 70 percent full. However, Robredo said even the government’s One Hospital Command Center recommends hospitals far away from the National Capital Region (NCR).
“Also, check the status of ICU beds in NCR. If you look at these figures, it would seem like we still have room in our hospitals to accommodate new patients. The reality is very different. All week last week, until this weekend, we have been getting distress signals from relatives of patients who are asking to help them find a hospital,” Robredo said in a post on her personal Facebook page.
“We have people desperately trying to call the One Hospital Command Center and people trying to get in touch with hospitals as far north as Nueva Ecija and hospitals in Laguna and Batangas. We have heard many stories of people dying while waiting for hospital admissions,” she added.
Robredo also said she consulted a group of doctors about the issue, and the physicians said that a possible reason is that hospital bed capacity may no longer be updated — as some hospitals cut down on capacity to enforce physical distancing measures.
If ever this is true, then the DOH number would show inaccurate numbers.
“I asked a group of doctors during a briefing this morning about this and they gave two possible explanations: 1. The DOH data do not reflect available ER beds. 2. Their data in hospital bed capacity might not be updated anymore. They said most hospitals decreased their bed capacities because of physical distancing requirements,” Robredo said.
Just last week, several hospitals declared full capacity in terms of allocated beds and space for COVID-19 patients.
But aside from the hospital bed capacity, Robredo also took notice of the record-high 10,016 new COVID-19 infections on Monday — the highest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic hit the Philippines.
Robredo underscored that the country managed to record over 10,000 cases with just 28,492 individuals tested — an 18.0 percent positivity rate which is way above the World Health Organization standards of just five percent.
With the record-high increase reported on March 29, the Philippines now has 115,495 active infections and a nationwide caseload of more than 730,000.
“Highest number of new cases and very high positivity rate and yet we only tested 28,492!” Robredo said.
“Availability of accurate data is crucial, especially in crisis situations. I hope they do something about this,” she added.
The country is currently dealing with an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, and Cavite — areas placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) again.
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