DOH orders them to brace for escalating COVID cases in provinces
All regions and local governments nationwide have been ordered to prepare for an increase in COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday.
The order came as four provinces—Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Northern Samar—were earlier escalated to Alert Level 4.
Public hospitals must increase their COVID-19 bed capacity to 50 percent of their total beds, while private facilities must allot at least 30 percent of beds for virus patients, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
“Hospitals need to stockpile on medicines used for managing COVID cases,” Vergeire told reporters in Filipino.
Local governments must intensify their PDITR (Prevent, Detect, Isolation, Treat, Reintegration) efforts and ramp up their vaccination, Vergeire added.
The effect of a high vaccination rate against COVID-19 can be seen in Metro Manila, where the majority of cases were asymptomatic to mild, Vergeire said.
“Even though our cases increased and it’s four to six times more compared [than they were during] the Delta [surge], the difference is then hospitals were full,” she said.
“Now, even if our cases increased, our ICU beds, the number of critical and severe patients wasn’t high,” she added.
Vergeire reiterated that further studies are needed before they can say the number of virus cases in the capital region was declining.
“Even though cases are decreasing, the NCR still has a high positivity rate,” she said.
The independent OCTA Research Group said new cases outside the National Capital Region (NCR) and its adjacent provinces have increased by 200 percent in eight days, going from under 4,000 on Jan. 12 to almost 12,000 on Jan. 20.
OCTA fellow Guido David said this should not be surprising as the wave has “spread out” to other parts of the country.
In Cebu City, David projected that new COVID-19 cases may peak at below 1,000 cases.
Meanwhile, One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) said the utilization rate of hospitals has been classified as “high risk” amid the COVID-19 surge.
“In terms of our hospital care utilization rate, we have seen an increase in other regions. Region 8 is at high risk now,” OHCC Medical Officer Dr. Marylaine Padlan said during an online briefing.
She added that many areas, such as the NCR, the Cordillera Administrative Region and Regions 1, 2, 5 6, 7, 11 and 13, were at moderate risk.The health care utilization rate (HCUR) refers to the occupancy of isolation, ward, and ICU beds, as well as the utilization of mechanical ventilators.
The occupancy rate is considered high risk if it is over 70 percent but less than 85 percent. An occupancy rate between 60 percent and 69 percent is considered moderate.
Areas recently placed under Alert Level 4 were observed to be having a difficult time dealing with the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, the DOH said.
“We see that these areas are struggling. That’s why [we decided to] escalate them compared to other areas,” Vergeire said in a Palace briefing, referring to Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, and Northern Samar.
She said these areas have a health care utilization rate of over 70 percent and had allocated most of their bed capacity to COVID-19, unlike other areas that have only allocated less than 50 percent of their bed capacity.
“We are giving time to our local governments with less than 50 percent allocated beds for COVID-19 to increase their bed allocation,” she said.
Vergeire said all regional task forces and the regional directors of every agency have been directed to prepare their local governments.
The Philippines logged 32,744 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 3,357,083.
There were 156 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 53,309.
The DOH also reported 16,385 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 3,012,156.
There were 291,618 active cases of which 9,015 were asymptomatic; 277,833 were mild; 2,979 were moderate; 1,487 were severe; and 304 were critical.Nationwide, 51 percent of ICU beds, 52 percent of isolation beds, 54 percent of ward beds, and 24 percent of ventilators, are in use.
In Metro Manila, 49 percent of ICU beds, 48 percent of isolation beds, 56 percent of ward beds, and 27 percent of ventilators, are in use.
Meanwhile, the number of areas placed under granular lockdown has decreased to 832, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Friday.
This is a slight drop from 844 areas recorded on Thursday.
The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has the most number of areas under granular lockdown at 240, followed by Cagayan Valley with 212; National Capital Region, 196; Ilocos Region, 165; and Mimaropa, 19.