KUWTT: More Metro hospitals full Mar 22, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Monday, March 22, 2021.

READ: More Metro hospitals full

MORE hospitals in Metro Manila have been stretched to the limit, reinforcing the projection that the capital region’s hospitals will reach full capacity if the upswing in the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases is not checked. The situation has reached the point that in one hospital, two to three patients share a private room. In another, the waiting period for a regular room is from three to five days. In separate interviews on Sunday, Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) reported that beds for both Covid and non-Covid patients were already filled. The Lung Center of the Philippines reached a similar critical level. In a DZBB interview on Sunday, PGH spokesman Jonas del Rosario said 170 of the hospital’s 200 beds were occupied. The intensive care unit (ICU) wards were also full, del Rosario said.

READ: Restrictions tightened in NCR, 4 provinces

The government has tightened restrictions in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas following the continued rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. announced on Sunday that the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal will be placed under GCQ from March 22 to April 4. Only essential travel in and out of the GCQ areas will be allowed. The 10 PM to 5 AM curfew will be maintained. Mass gatherings, including religious services, will be prohibited. Weddings, baptism and funeral services will be limited to 10 persons. Dining in restaurants will not be allowed, Roque said. Public transportation will remain operational, but only essential travel will be allowed. Roque said businesses would stay open except cinemas, driving schools, video and interactive game arcades, libraries, and limited tourist attractions. Current capacities of essential and non-essential services will be maintained. Amid the additional restrictions, Roque said the government is encouraging the private sector to adopt alternative working arrangements already in place in the executive branch of the government, such as the 30 to 50 percent operational or on-site capacity.

READ: Bong Go seeks stricter quarantine measures

SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Sunday pressed for stricter community quarantine measures to control the rise in Covid-19 cases, believing people are becoming “too confident”. He said government authorities and health experts “must find a viable balance between protecting people’s lives and ensuring that operations of essential public services and industries remain unhampered.”

READ: ‘Private sector can’t buy vaccines’

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said there were two reasons why the government could not allow the private sector to directly buy coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines from manufacturers. One reason is that pharmaceutical companies insist on the government providing indemnity and the second is the Covid-19 vaccination law. The law authorizes the Department of Health (DoH) and the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 to order vaccines and ancillary supplies through negotiated procurement under emergency cases as defined in Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the “Government Procurement Reform Act.” The law also creates a P500-million Covid-19 national vaccine indemnity fund to compensate individuals who might suffer adverse effects from the use of vaccines. The Department of Health (DoH) is mandated to issue a vaccine passport, stating the record of Covid-19 vaccinations received by an individual.

READ: ‘Admin bets will win in 2022’

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo has taunted the newly formed 1Sambayan National Democratic Coalition, saying administration bets will win by landslide in next year’s national elections. He claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte, if he runs for vice president, would be unbeatable regardless of who his running mate would be.

READ: 16 Manila villages to be locked down

More villages in Manila will be locked down as a precaution against the surge in Covid-19 cases, Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said on Sunday. Domagoso said that 16 villages will be under 4-day lockdown starting on March 24 until March 27.

BUSINESS: PH external debt grows to $98B

Topping business, the country’s outstanding foreign obligations picked up to $98.5 billion as of last year, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). In a statement, the central bank reported that the end-December amount was $6.5 billion or 7.1 percent bigger than end-September’s $92 billion.

SPORTS: Petecio eyes revenge in Tokyo Olympics

In sports, the Tokyo Olympics is the stage where Filipina boxer Nesthy Petecio will shoot for the gold, and get back at the pugs who beat her in the qualifying tournament. Last year, Petecio needed only to make the semifinals of the Asia and Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualifiers to qualify for the Olympics. However, Petecio fell to Japanese Irie Sena in the quarterfinals — a split decision loss that she really cried about.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Fr. Ranhilio Aquino are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao believes China and the United States should “profusely” thank former Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert del Rosario and former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, while Fr. Aquino talks about the apostle Peter.

Today’s editorial talks about the Octa group claiming there will be no lockdowns amid a spike in Covid-19 cases. Read the full version on the paper’s Opinion Section or listen to the Voice of The Times.

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With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe week ahead.