While COVID-19 infections are slowing down in Mindanao, Western Visayas is a serious concern as cases are rising there and hospital beds in intensive care units are filling up, an independent research group tracking the pandemic said Thursday.
The Palace, meanwhile, said the NCR Plus area—made up of Metro Manila and four surrounding provinces—could be put under an ordinary general community quarantine (GCQ) after June 15 as hospitalization rates remain low.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said NCR Plus might not go down to a modified GCQ, but could revert to a GCQ without the extra restrictions that now prevail.
“We have seen that the pandemic trend has slowed down, especially in Mindanao and even in Davao City,” said Guido David, a fellow at the OCTA Research group.
On the other hand, Western Visayas is a more serious concern because not only are the cases there rising, but their health care utilization is also high, David added in an interview with CNN Philippines.
For instance, he said the average daily attack rate in Iloilo City is at 26. while the city’s ICU utilization is almost 100 percent.
In contrast, Davao City has a health care utilization rate of 60 percent, so they still have available rooms in their hospitals, he said.
Some 111,150 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Davao International Airport and were transported to the region’s health department for storage Thursday. A day earlier, some 44,800 doses of Sinovac vaccines also arrived in Davao City.
As for Metro Manila, Roque noted that only 53 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, 39 percent of isolation beds, 37 percent of ward beds, and 35 percent of ventilators have been in use as of June 9.
NCR Plus, which is composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, is under a GCQ “with restrictions” until June 15.
Initially, Manila and its four nearby provinces were placeVd under GCQ “with heightened restrictions” from May 15 to 31.
Despite the possibility that quarantine restrictions will be eased in NCR Plus, borders will remain closed to prevent the spread of new strains of the coronavirus.
Currently, foreigners, except diplomats and health care workers, are still barred from entering the Philippines.
The Philippines logged o 7,485 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 1,293,687, as four laboratories were unable to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
This marks the second consecutive day where more than 5,000 cases were reported.
The DOH reported 122 new fatalities, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 22,312.
The DOH also reported 4,504 who recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 1,214,454.
There are 56,921 active cases. Of this figure, 92.6 percent were mild, 3.2 percent were asymptomatic, 1.3 percent were critical, 1.7 percent were severe, and 1.18 percent were moderate.
The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 57 percent of the ICU beds, 49 percent of the isolation beds, 48 percent of the ward beds, and 36 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 49 percent of the ICU beds, 38 percent of the isolation beds, 35 percent of the ward beds, and 34 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
Senators on Thursday asked the DOH to expedite the release of all the COVID-19 vaccines in stock to help address the increased demand due to the inoculation of the A4 priority group.
Senator Nancy Binay branded as unacceptable the closure of some vaccination centers in Metro Manila because of the DOH’s failure to deliver vaccines on time.
“If these vaccines remain stored in warehouses and do not reach the LGUs (local government units) on time, not only will we be seeing a lot of empty tents and chairs--we are exposing a big percentage of our workforce to more contagious variants,” Binay said.
To date, about 9.3 million vaccines are in stockpile; 8.6 million have been deployed; and more than 6 million have been administered, with close to 1 million doses stored in government facilities.
Many local executives claim that vaccines stored in the national government’s facilities have yet to reach densely-populated cities and far-flung municipalities.
Senator Christopher Go asked LGUs and authorities in charge of the vaccine rollout to ensure that the vaccines in their possession are immediately distributed and used on those who are eligible for inoculation.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, questioned the delay in the implementation of a vaccine passport program that could facilitate domestic and international travel.