Covid patients treated in temporary facilities

As coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) wards in Metro Manila continue to fill up, the government had started moving mild and asymptomatic patients out of hospitals and into temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, the Department of Health (DoH) said.

Next month, patients with moderate and severe cases will be treated at a modular hospital being set up at the Quezon Institute. The facility, which can accommodate 110 patients, will be managed by the team of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said.

He admitted that the overall utilization of hospitals had reached the moderate risk category, which means that more than 60 percent of all available hospital beds for Covid-19 are in use. Intensive care unit (ICU) beds for Covid-19 is now at 73 percent to 76 percent capacity.

ROBOT SWAB A robot collects a throat swab sample from a volunteer in a private hospital in Egypt. The use of the robot was part of a project to assist medical personnel in running tests by limiting human exposure. AFP PHOTO

In Metro Manila, the utilization rate is 69 percent for ICU beds, 68 percent for isolation beds and 49 percent for ward beds, according to the DoH.

Vega said mild and asymptomatic patients who were in hospitals had been transferred to temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) under the Oplan Kalinga program.

“Nakikipag-ugnayan na kami sa Oplan Kalinga at sa local government units na uunahin natin ‘yung mga isolation at TTMF sa mga mild and asymptomatic dahil sila ang mataas na percentage sa mga new cases (We are now coordinating with the Oplan Kalinga and the local government units that we will prioritize those mild and asymptomatic cases in TTMFs as they have the high number of percentages in the new cases),” he continued.

Vega bared that the department hoped to debunk the projections of Octa Research that the hospital capacity may reach full capacity after Holy Week if the restrictions are not relaxed.

“‘Yung mga restrictions natin ngayon sa greater Manila bubble, kasama na ho doon ang Cavite, Laguna at Rizal, alam natin na ang variant ay kumakalat sa Metro Manila at ayaw na nating maikalat pa ‘yung variant sa ibang probinsya (The restrictions in the greater Manila bubble, which will include Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, [will help in] the prevention of the variant, which is now spreading in Metro Manila, to other provinces,” he said.

Major hospitals in Metro Manila had announced that their Covid and non-Covid wards were full because of the fresh surge in virus cases.

From a high of more than 8,000 new cases on Sunday, the DoH reported 5,867 new infections on Tuesday, totalling 86,200 active cases and 677,653 overall cases.

There were 620 new recoveries, but 20 more were added to the list of fatalities for a total of 12,992 deaths.

Vega admitted that the government’s One Hospital Command (OHC) center had been swamped with calls on hospital inquiries.

He said from an average of 66 calls per day, the center now receives an average of 300 calls per day asking for help.

“‘Yung pagdating ng surge, dumami ang tawag namin, na-overwhelm ang capacity…marami ho kaming (When the surge started, we had more calls, so we were overwhelmed and we had more) overflow calls and pending calls,” Vega said during the Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday.

He added that the department was trying to resolve the issue by adding more information technology personnel and medical personnel to oversee the direction of the OHC, as well as improving their system to manage overflow calls through the help of telecommunications companies.

“Ginagawan namin ng paraan ito dahil kung nakikita nyo na overwhelmed ang mga temporary treatment and monitoring facilities at ang mga hospital, at kami po na coordinating operations center, nakaka-experience din ng increase in capacity (We are doing everything that we can, hospitals and TTMFs have been overwhelmed, and we in the coordinating operations center are also experiencing an increase in capacity), “ he said.