Hospitals outside Metro Manila continued to see spikes in COVID-19 cases, as intensive care utilization rates reached a critical level in Davao City and one-week growth rates climbed in other urban areas.
This developed as Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday called on the Duterte administration to help provinces reeling from increasing COVID-19 cases, as the Department of Health last week flagged 36 areas with "high or moderate risk" number of coronavirus infections.
As her home region of Bicol experiences a coronavirus spike, Robredo said the area’s medical community was worried there were not enough hospital beds to address the surge.
“Medical groups in Bicol said they had fewer hospital beds compared to Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao," said Robredo on her radio program this week.
In addition, doctors in the province have asked local governments to impose stricter lockdowns, as they feared they might experience difficulties similar to what India went through.
Officials of the Department of Health (DOH) in Eastern Visayas also warned the public not to trade “momentary feelings of happiness in social gatherings” over the infections and deaths brought by the deadly disease following the trend of record-breaking daily cases in the region in the past two weeks.
“The fleeting joy and celebration that the public is hopeful about when they meet in social gatherings may cause a dreadful ending for others, especially the vulnerable groups,” said the DOH in Eastern Visayas.
The OCTA Research team said Sunday Davao City led the list of local government units outside the National Capital Region with the greatest number of new COVID-19 cases from June 13 to 19.
In its June 20 report, the team said Davao City averaged 252 new infections per day, which is higher than the 177 daily average cases from the previous week.
Davao had a one-week growth rate of 42% and an average daily attack rate of 13.88%.
The city also has an intensive care unit utilization rate of 95% (critical), while its hospital bed utilization rate was at 67% (moderate).
Aside from Davao City, Valencia in Bukidnon, Cebu City, and Polomolok in South Cotabato had significant one-week growth rates of 80%, 45%, and 32%, respectively.
The group also said Iloilo City, Koronadal in South Cotabato, and Bacoor City have reached 100% ICU utilization.
Other areas nearing full capacity in their ICUs are Tuguegarao at 98%, Cotabato City at 94%, General Santos and San Pablo in Laguna at 86%, and Tagum and Naga City with 85%.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 infections in the capital region continued to decrease with 750 new cases, lower than the 842 cases the previous week.
The NCR’s ICU utilization rate is at 44%, while its hospital bed occupancy is at 35%.
On Sunday, Eastern Visayas marked a continuous increase with the highest number COVID-19 cases at 712 since the pandemic started in 2020. Tacloban City, the region’s capital, recorded 106 cases in just a day.
The region listed 282 hotspot barangays or those with a total of three or more cases for the last two morbidity weeks, according to the regional DOH. See full story online at manilastandard.net)
“This gives an undeniable manifestation that the hospitals in the region are already at a critical level, especially the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC), the major COVID-19 referral hospital in the region,” it said.
While the government has intensified its vaccination activities, the health department also called on the public “to strictly and consistently adhere to the minimum public health standards to minimize the risk of exposure and infection.”
Robredo said the government should ramp up COVID-19 testing and increase the supply of vaccines in these areas.
"Government should support the testing and vaccine supply of not only Metro Manila but areas of concern all over the country because that's really the problem,” she said on her weekly radio show.
“Metro Manila is still an area of concern... But its number of cases is declining. However, its positivity rate remains high. High positivity rate means we should increase testing. We've said this so many times,” Robredo said.
In some areas, people are lining up in hospitals waiting to receive medical care, with some having to wait for their dead to be cremated, she added.
"If we look at DOH stats, it seems hospitals are only 70 or 60 percent full. But doctors claim it does not represent the real situation on the ground where the queues are long.”
"In fact, in Legaspi, we have a partner whose spouse died. They had to wait more than a day before the spouse's cremation could be scheduled,” the vice president.
Medical groups have recommended that quarantine status be tightened in their local areas but officials are hesitant due to its impact on the economy, Robredo said.
"There's a report that came out that they worry they will become like India. They just don't want it to come to that, so they want to be preventive early on. But there's a disagreement because LGUs are not in favor of ECQ because they worry about businesses, jobs. Many will be unable to eat again because they can't make a living.”