The hospital bed occupancy for COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR) increased to 29 percent in a span of one week, an independent group monitoring the pandemic said Tuesday.
In a tweet, OCTA Research fellow Guido David said the number of occupied hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in NCR rose from 17 percent on Dec. 26, 2021 to 29 påercent on Jan. 2, 2022.
Intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy increased from 21 percent to 29 percent within the same period, he said.
“Hospital bed occupancy seems to be increasing at a faster rate compared to ICU occupancy,” David said.
According to the Department of Health’s (DOH) latest bulletin, 29 percent of the 1,200 ICU beds and 27 percent of the 4,600 isolation beds for COVID-19 patients in the NCR were occupied.
David said 1,000 more hospital beds were occupied now compared to the 1,072 beds used during the peak of the COVID-19 surge caused by the Delta variant last year.
“Both hospital bed occupancy and ICU occupancy are still at a very low level at this time,” he said.
The critical level threshold is at 70 percent occupancy.
As of Monday, about 30 percent of the 3,800 ward beds and 16 percent of the 1,000 ventilators were utilized, according to the DOH bulletin.
Meanwhile, for the whole country, 23 percent of the 3,400 ICU beds and 23 percent of the 18,600 isolation beds were in use, while 16 percent of the 12,200 ward beds and 13 percent of the 2,800 ventilators nationwide were being used.
Metro Manila is currently under Alert Level 3 until Jan. 15.
On Monday, officials at the St. Luke’s Medical Center and the East Avenue Medical Center reported a rise in their COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Arturo De La Peña, president and CEO of St. Luke’s Medical Center, described the recent surge in coronavirus hospital admissions as “a bit concerning.”
He said that new infections were also recorded among health workers.
St. Luke’s Global City in Taguig currently has 43 admitted COVID-19 patients, while its facility in Quezon City has 32, up from less than 10 confined in both before New Year’s Eve, said De La Peña.
Each has four pediatric patients.
About 40 percent of those confined at the private medical facility are unvaccinated against COVID-19, another 40 percent are fully vaccinated, and some 10 percent already received their booster shots, said De La Peña.
EAMC, located in Quezon City, cited 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.
Some 23 health workers at St. Luke’s Global City, 28 from St. Luke’s Quezon City, and five from EAMC are infected with COVID-19.
The emergency rooms of St. Luke’s have also seen an increase in people consulting for possible COVID infections, said De La Peña.
Attributing the spike in new cases to the people’s laxity in following health protocols, De La Peña urged the public to change their behavior and strictly adhere to the set guidelines, whether or not they have symptoms.
Other hospitals in Metro Manila have also reported a spike in admitted COVID-19 patients amid the threat of the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The Ospital ng Malabon, meanwhile, said it would still not admit non-COVID-19 patients until further notice due to rising COVID-19 infections among its personnel. The hospital earlier announced that it would temporarily stop admitting non-COVID-19 patients to conduct disinfection from Jan. 2 to 4.
An infectious disease specialist said Tuesday that patients with flu-like symptoms should consult a doctor through telemedicine to avoid congesting hospitals.
Dr. Edsel Salvana said it should be no problem for pharmacies to restock their supplies, when asked for comment on the supposed shortage of over-the-counter drugs for coughs and colds.
“It’s the flu season…symptomatic relief is important but if you find it hard to breathe and have low oxygenation, you need to consult a doctor,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
Also on Tuesday, Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles called on the government to provide free COVID tests for workers in the frontline of the country’s response to the pandemic.
“We are again bracing for a surge that according to experts will peak in February. It is just right for us to ensure that our modern-day heroes, our frontliners, do not have to worry about the expenses of being tested and even managing the disease in case they are infected,” Nograles said.
He said that aside from health workers, frontliners should include pharmacy attendants, quarantine hotel employees as workers that are heavily exposed to those who are already infected.
“Giving free testing to our frontliners greatly helps our country’s response to COVID-19 as they will be tested regularly and will not have to dismiss symptoms just to avoid expenses,” Nograles added.