Government to provinces: Increase bed capacity for COVID-19 patients

Alexis Romero – The Filipino star

January 23, 2022 | 12:00 noon

MANILA, Philippines — Increasing hospital beds for COVID-19 patients would prevent provinces from being subjected to tighter alert levels, Malacañang said as it urged regional health departments to continue monitoring local governments’ health care capacities.

Acting Presidential Spokesman Karlo Nograles said the government is monitoring the situation in Bataan, Iloilo City, Ormoc City, Naga City, Dagupan City, Western Samar, Tacloban City, Biliran and Zamboanga del Sur, which are among the areas affected fall under alert level 3 due to rising pandemic infections.

“We also consistently monitor other areas and advise them. We are now triggering or now urging the regional IATFs (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and the regional task forces to help us monitor the dedicated beds as well,” Nograles said at a news conference last Friday .

“If they increase their dedicated COVID beds, they (would) remain in Alert Level 3, but if they cross the threshold we have no choice but to escalate them (to a stricter classification). For this reason, we are actively coordinating with them, the respective LGUs (local government units) to look at their metrics,” he added.

Nograles previously said the bed occupancy rate would be classified as high risk if it reached 71 percent.

Areas with high bed occupancy, average daily attack rate, or the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population and two-week growth rate may be escalated to Alert Level 4, the second strictest classification.

“We need to increase dedicated beds for COVID so that we don’t hit the 71 percent bed occupancy (rate) threshold, and … that’s one of the things we’re pushing to LGUs,” Nograles said.

Business establishments and activities in areas below Alert Level 4 are only permitted up to a capacity of 10 percent for indoor venues and 30 percent for outdoor venues.

For Alert Level 3 areas, the maximum capacity allowed is 30 percent for indoor venues and 50 percent for outdoor venues. Only vaccinated people are allowed to enter halls.

Four provinces will be under Alert Level 4 by the end of the month, namely Kalinga, Ifugao and Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region and Northern Samar in Eastern Visayas.

Several areas, including Metro Manila, are under Level 3 Alert.
Six regions are classified as critical risk due to the high increase in COVID-19 infections, namely Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, Calabarzon, Cordillera Administrative Region and Central Luzon. The rest of the regions are classified as high-risk areas.

The entire Philippines is at critical risk but healthcare utilization is still at low risk as of last week.

The IATF has directed interior and health departments and their regional units to address the low percentage of dedicated beds for COVID-19 by increasing health care human resources and relieving hospitals with mild and asymptomatic cases through step-down facilities.

The task force has also called for the establishment of operational LGU emergency centers and strengthening LGU and community outreach and prioritizing home care services for mild and asymptomatic cases.

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