In Ilocos Norte, health-care system at ‘tipping point’ | Inquirer News

In Ilocos Norte, health-care system at ‘tipping point’

/ 04:30 AM July 20, 2021

ALMOST FULL Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, is nearing capacity due to a spike in coronavirus cases. —PHOTO COURTESY OF MARIANO MARCOS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL CENTER

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, Philippines — The healthcare system in Ilocos Norte province has reached a “tipping point” as its isolation and quarantine facilities continue to be overwhelmed with patients due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, officials said on Monday.

At a press briefing, Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc said the bed capacity for COVID-19 patients in Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center (MMMH&MC) had already hit 85 percent, which is considered a critical level.


MMMH&MC is the primary COVID-19 treatment center in the province. It caters to moderate, severe and critical cases.


Manotoc said the management of MMMH&MC had asked other government and private hospitals in the province to admit COVID-19 patients with moderate symptoms and in stable conditions to ease the pressure on the facility.

Schools tapped

Even quarantine facilities across Ilocos Norte are almost bursting at the seams, with 79-percent occupancy rate as of July 16, the governor said.

Because of this, the provincial government is planning to use public schools in the towns of Bangui and Dumalneg as additional isolation facilities, Manotoc said, adding that this option had already been approved by the Department of Education.

The capital city of Laoag, which was tagged by OCTA Research group in its latest monitoring report as one of the areas in the country with high COVID-19 infection rates, remained as the province’s epicenter, accounting for 45 percent of the 1,263 active cases in the province as of July 18.

Laoag has a 2.07-percent infection rate, which was considered “very high,” according to the research group.

The average daily cases in Laoag almost doubled from 25 cases in early July to 46 infections logged from July 11 to July 17, OCTA said.


Manotoc said containing the spread of COVID-19 in Laoag had become more challenging as it became “very difficult to [engage in] contact [tracing] in the city.”

He said the situation in the city had become “somehow out of control, we could not quite trace each case in the city,” unlike in other areas in the province.

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Dr. Norman Rabago, provincial health consultant, said Ilocos Norte would continue to heed the implementation of strict health protocols amid the surge and would look to vaccinate up to 1,000 to 1,200 residents per day.


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