Two Manila hospitals are temporarily limiting patient admissions due to rising COVID-19 infections, including among its health care workers.
In an advisory, the Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital (JJASGH) said it was going to stop admitting patients starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 1).
“The number of COVID patients is greater than the number of beds. Thus, the hospital must first close so it can send home or transfer other admitted patients to quarantine facilities,” JJASGH said in a statement posted on the Manila Public Information Office’s Facebook page. JJASGH added that many of its staff tested positive for the virus.
The Department of Health (DOH) said Sunday that the Abad Santos hospital “would open within the day.”
“The temporary closure was due to the hospital’s initiative to transfer patients with mild cases to the nearby isolation facilities,” the DOH said in an advisory.
The Gat Andres Bonifacio Medical Center also announced it will temporarily stop admitting patients in its emergency room due to an increase in COVID-19 infections among employees.
“All incoming patients shall still be evaluated and transferred to other city hospitals,” GABMC Director Dr. Ted Martin said in a statement.
As of Jan. 1, Manila City had 435 active COVID-19 cases.
The DOH on the same day reported 3,617 new COVID-19 cases all over the country, the highest count recorded since Oct. 10.
The growing caseload has pushed the government to again place Metro Manila under the stricter Alert Level 3 from Jan. 3 until 15.
The government attributed the spike in new cases to increased mobility during the holiday season.
It has yet to confirm whether the spike in infections is driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The Philippines has so far detected 14 Omicron infections.
Meanwhile, the OCTA Research Group said the hospital bed occupancy for COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR) rose to 41 percent.
In a tweet, OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David showed that the number of occupied hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in NCR rose from 1,381 on Dec. 24 to 1,942 on Dec. 31.
Intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy increased by 37 percent from 231 to 316 in the same period.
The Department of Health’s (DOH) latest bulletin said 25 percent of the 1,300 ICU beds and 23 percent of the 4,700 isolation beds for COVID-19 patients in the NCR were occupied.
“Both are considered to be very low at this time,” David said, noting that the critical level threshold is at 70 percent occupancy.
Also on Sunday, the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) said there is no lack of nurses in health care facilities, however, they are already preparing for an influx of COVID-19 patients anew.
PNA president Melbert Reyes, in an interview with radio dzBB, said while the sharp increase in COVID-19 infections is “very alarming,” there are still enough nurses to tend to the patients.
Reyes also said that most of the nurses who tested positive for COVID-19 are either asymptomatic or show mild symptoms.
The DOH reported Sunday that the calls to its One Hospital Command Center doubled since the last days of December,rising from100 to 200 a day.
DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, also the treatment czar, said after the detection of the Omicron coronavirus variant, they prepared for the reopening of quarantine centers because cases in the country were starting to go up.
In November 2021, the number of new infections as well as active tally in the Philippines was on a downward trend. During this time, some local government units, including Pasig City, closed their quarantine centers as COVID-19 infections were becoming fewer and fewer.