As the number of coronavirus cases in the country crept toward 30,000 on Saturday, officials said the Philippine health care system’s current critical care utilization rate (CCUR) is “not yet fully exhausted.”
READ: PH death rate declining but new cases up
That means the system still has enough capacity to care for those in need of critical care during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday.
“Our analysis shows we’re just using 35 percent of our CCUR, so we can say we have a lot in reserve,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a television interview.
However, Vergeire said the 35% CCUR is for the whole country and that rates vary in every region.
The DOH reported a total of 943 cases yesterday—578 fresh cases and 365 late cases, with fresh cases based on the daily accomplishment reports submitted by only 49 out of 59 current operational labs.
It also reported 20 deaths, but 15 of them occurred from June 5 to 16. The DOH explained two duplicates were also removed from total case count, “which may be subject to change as these numbers undergo constant cleaning and validation.”
DOH likewise announces 272 recoveries, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 7,650.
The CCUR indicated the capacity of the health system’s critical resources like ICUs (intensive care units) at mechanical ventilators, Vergeire said.
READ: DOH targets to test 1.65M Pinoys end-July
CCUR is an important indicator in determining whether quarantine restrictions can be eased, since it provides data on the capacity of the country’s hospitals and other health facilities to take care of the critically ill during the crisis, she added.
Case doubling time has also slowed down to 6.9 days, from two to three days since the government imposed strict lockdown measures in March.
The mortality doubling time has also slowed to nine days, Vergeire said.
Meanwhile, back-riding on motorcycles will soon be allowed upon approval of requirements set by a technical working group and issuance of guidelines by the National Task Force (NTF) for COVID-19, Malacanang said Saturday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said motorcycle back riding will be allowed in “principle” after the NTF released the guidelines to ensure the proper enforcement of safety protocols for back-riding.
“So back riding in motorcycles will return soon, but the NTF needs to issue guidelines. It will be allowed in principle, upon the approval of the requirements that will be set by the technical working group. Let’s just wait and maybe back riding will finally be allowed,” he said during the Laging Handa program.
Thousands of “habal-habal” and motorcycle taxi drivers lost their income right after President Duterte placed the entire nation under enhanced community quarantine in March 15 to prevent the spread of COVID 19.
The government said “pillion” riding or back riding violates social distancing protocols, and this may cause the transmission of the disease to the passenger.
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This developed as the government sought a second phase of operation concepts and plans to boost its battle against COVID-19, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.,the chief implementer of the National Action Plan (NAP) on the coronavirus, said.
“We will also assess the National Action Plan and prepare the second phase of our concept of operations for July, August, and September to address the resurgence of COVID-19 contamination in Cebu and other critical areas,” Galvez said in a virtual presser.
During the assessment, he said, the task force will invite various analysts from the University of the Philippines (UP), who recommended for the “second look of the current and future plans” of the government to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“With the leadership of our President, IATF and national task force on COVID-19, we will do everything—so we can save more lives, and revive and rehabilitate our economy,” he said.
Colleges and universities in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) can now hold mass gatherings at a limited capacity, Malacañang announced on Saturday.
During the Laging Handa program, Roque said the IATF-EID made revisions to the guidelines on nationwide community quarantine allowed the mass gatherings in higher education institutions.
“Mass gatherings in higher educational institutions are now allowed. However, strict compliance with the existing guidelines for areas under MGCQ must be observed,” Roque said.
Originally, the IATF-EID only authorized mass gatherings for religious purposes or work conferences in places where MGCQ is implemented, provided that participants are limited to “50 percent of the seating or venue capacity.”
Under the government’s guidelines, strict compliance with minimum health standards must be observed in areas placed under MGCQ.
Roque confirmed that the IATF-EID also gave its nod to the resumption of the technical-vocational education and training (TVET) of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in areas under GCQ.
However, a party-list representative who represents the education sector on Saturday expressed concern of the Department of Education’s alleged lack of protocols despite the agency’s insistence on the reopening of classes in August.
Assistant Minority Leader France Castro, the nominee of ACT Teachers at the House of Representatives, said: “The Department of Education has been insistent to reopen schools this August despite the obvious shortages and lack of health protocols set in place for a safe back-to-work and back-to-school environment for its personnel, both academic and administative.”