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Monday, March 4, 2024

Hospitals feeling impact of fresh spike in cases; personnel infected

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Several Metro Manila hospitals are seeing a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases, infecting personnel as well.

RESTOCKING. Health workers from Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital are seen next to hospital stocks of medical oxygen in Binondo, Manila. The City Government assures its constituents that Manila has enough oxygen for its COVID-19 patients. Norman Cruz

The Philippine General Hospital has seen a steady rise in COVID-19 infections, with 60 percent of COVID admissions saying they had been vaccinated, the hospital’s spokesperson said Monday, on the same day more than 50 health workers in another Manila hospital tested COVID positive.

According to PGH Spokesman Jonas del Rosario, COVID admissions in the hospital rose from around 30 on Christmas Day to 116 confirmed cases as of January 2.

“We are admitting 10-15 patients a day,” Del Rosario told TeleRadyo.

He also said the hospital was prioritizing moderate to severe cases.

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Sixty percent of those admitted for COVID have been vaccinated, del Rosario said, citing preliminary data.

There are 10 children admitted in the hospital for COVID-19; 8 out of the 10 are mild with co-morbidities while 2 are moderate to severe.

Thirty percent of adult COVID cases in PGH are severe while the rest are mild to moderate, according to del Rosario.

The number of COVID-19 patients confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center and at the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City has increased starting at the turn of the year, officials of the two hospitals said Monday.

Dr. Arturo De La Peña, president and CEO of St. Luke’s Medical Center, described the recent spike in coronavirus hospital admissions and among health workers as a bit concerning.

EAMC also saw a 32.62 percent increase in admitted COVID-19 patients during the most recent week, from 117 to 151, according to Lorena Tuico Perdigon, Health Education and Promotion Officer of the government hospital.

Among health workers, 23 are currently infected from St. Luke’s Global City, 28 from St. Luke’s Quezon City, and five from EAMC, De La Peña and Perdigon said in an interview on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

The Philippines has so far detected 14 Omicron cases, three of which were domestic infections and the rest were from overseas travelers.

The Philippines confirmed 4,600 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The positivity rate was also at 19.6 percent, way above the 5 percent recommended rate by the World Health Organization, and the highest level since Sept. 20 last year.

In related developments, the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Tondo, Manila has stopped admitting patients at the emergency room after more than 50 of its vaccinated health-care workers were found positive for COVID-19, the hospital director said.

GABMMC director Dr. Teodoro Martin said over 50 health-workers, who had received COVID-19 booster shots, were in quarantine. Most of them are showing mild symptoms.

“It is currently closed because we have health-care workers who turned positive [for COVID-19]. We are also managing our patients because many are coming in here sick,” Martin said.

Martin said the health-care workers who had gotten the respiratory disease had attended family gatherings during the holidays. Some also visited shopping malls.

He also suspects the possible local transmission of the more contagious omicron variant.

“I’m encouraging all hospitals and health facilities to conduct mass testing because of high transmission of [COVID-19]),” Martin said.

Martin said some 30 COVID-19 patients were currently admitted in the GABMMC, which has 75 beds dedicated to coronavirus cases.

Six of them are dialysis patients while many are children, he added.

Most are exhibiting mild symptoms but require observation.

Martin said the hospital’s emergency room would open after 72 hours following thorough disinfection of its facility.

On Sunday, Manila reported 139 fresh COVID-19 cases, raising its tally to 93,444. The tally includes 544 active cases and 1,774 deaths.

Nationwide, the COVID-19 caseload was over 2.85 million infections, with 21,418 active cases and 51,570 fatalities.

Manila has reimposed curfew hours for minors and banned unvaccinated individuals from entering malls.

District hospitals in the city of Manila have declared “Code White” due to the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

According to Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, six hospitals in the city were in “Code White.”

This alert system means that hospitals are preparing for the expected increase in the number of patients.

Staff and personnel are being prepared as well as medicines and equipment in case they are needed. The city’s new policy is to move mild COVID-19 cases from the hospital to a quarantine facility.

According to the mayor, patients should not be surprised if they were transferred to a quarantine facility if their symptoms were mild.

He said moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 were now a priority in hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital was set to resume its operations last Sunday, a day after its temporary closure
due to an increase in COVID-19 infections among its patients and healthcare workers, the Department of Health said.

“As per Dr. (Arnold) Pangan of the Manila City Health Office, the said facility would open within the day,” the DOH said in a statement on

The hospital’s temporary closure took effect at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

The management explained that the number of COVID-19 patients getting admitted was greater than the number of beds in their hospital, thus they needed to temporarily close to get the patients discharged or transferred to quarantine facilities with the help of the Manila Health Department.

The DOH confirmed this, noting that JJASGH’s initiative was “ to transfer patients with mild cases to the nearby isolation facilities.”

Earlier on Sunday, the OCTA Research group reported that the hospital bed occupancy for COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR) has increased to 41 percent, that is from 1,381 on December 24 to 1,942 on December 31.

The JJASGH also advised people to go to other public hospitals in Manila City as many of their staff were also infected with COVID-19.

“The Department of Health lauds the quick response of the Manila City Health Office, which is consistent with our protocols,” the DOH
statement added.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has placed the National Capital Region under Alert Level 3
from January 3 to 15, 2022, following the sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday the highly transmissible Omicron variant may already be responsible for this rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ healthcare utilization rate remains “very low” amid increasing COVID-19 infections, treatment czar Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega on Monday.

“The healthcare utilization rate is still very low. We are still able to accommodate the number of admissions for mild, moderate for COVID-19 and it’s still in the low risk position,” Vega said in an interview on ANC.

“There is still about less than 30 percent being occupied by the COVID-19 patients,” Vega said.

Vega said the Omicron variant, even though it is highly transmissible, could cause mild cases.

He also assured the public that the government is preparing the healthcare system since the variant can still overwhelm hospitals and other medical facilities.

“We are preparing our health system capacity, our testing, isolation, so that we are all prepared for another ride in the wave of this Omicron virus,” Vega said.

So far, the country detected 14 Omicron variant cases, including three local ones.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda, meanwhile, urged the Department of Health to intensify its procurement of COVID-19 therapeutics.

“We have to be ready with the retrovirals. There are funds, and I believe we can also activate DRR (disaster risk reduction) funds if it has to come to that. Overall, if we make the necessary hospital capacity and treatment expansions, we will barrel through,” Salceda said.

Salceda said Congress was willing to make adjustments or amendments in the national budget “to ensure that we can buy therapeutics,
ventilators, and other medical needs should hospitalizations surge.”

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