DOH sees increase in ‘incidental’ COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has observed an increase in the number of “incidental” COVID-19 patients – or those who were admitted to medical facilities for other health conditions but were later found positive for the new coronavirus – in Metro Manila hospitals.
According to DOH Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire, the occurrence of incidental COVID-19 cases may be due to the high vaccination rate in the country’s capital region.
“Dahil sa mataas na vaccination rate sa National Capital Region (NCR), dalawang klase ng COVID-19 patients ang nakikita nating na-i-a-admit sa mga hospital: una, ang mga admitted dahil sa COVID-19 kagaya ng may sample diagnosis na may COVID-19 pneumonia, habang pangalawa ang mga pasyenteng ina-admit para sa ibang kondisyon, ngunit incidentally ay nagpopositibo sa [SARS-CoV-2],” she said in a media briefing on Tuesday.
(Because of the high vaccination rate in the NCR, there are now two kinds of COVID-19 patients being admitted in hospitals: first, those admitted due to COVID-19 like those with sample diagnosis with COVID-19 pneumonia, and second, patients who were admitted for other conditions but were incidentally found positive for SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.)
Vergeire said that among the medical conditions of incidental COVID-19 cases are acute appendicitis, acute coronary syndrome, intracranial hemorrhage, and trauma from a vehicular crash.
She also noted that data from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) shows that “the pattern has shifted” now that a bigger proportion of patients are incidental COVID-19 infections.
Based on data from PGH, 53.9 percent of COVID-19 patients at the hospital were admitted for COVID-19 while 46.1 percent are incidental cases during the wave of Delta infections from September 5-18, 2021.
Meanwhile, only 11.3 percent were admitted for COVID-19 while 88.6 percent are incidental COVID-19 cases during the surge during the holiday season from December 25, 2021, to January 7.
Like the PGH, DOH hospitals in Metro Manila also show the same pattern. According to the health agency, some 1,284 patients in its hospitals in the region are incidental cases while 226 are admitted for COVID-19 in ward beds; 67 are incidental while 50 were admitted for COVID-19 in intensive care units; and 16 were incidental cases and eight were admitted due to COVID-19 for patients requiring a mechanical ventilator.
The increase in incidental cases “means that people are not exhibiting COVID symptoms but are coming for other diseases,” said Dr. John Wong, founder of health research institution Epimetrics Inc. and a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s sub-technical working group on data analytics.
However, having mild cases and more incidental COVID-19 cases does not mean that hospitals are not burdened anymore, Vergeire clarified. She stressed that hospitals need to continue accommodating many sick patients and allot more beds for them.
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