MANILA, Philippines – The government will increase capacities for COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and hospital beds as the country continues to grapple with record-high COVID-19 infections.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, also acting spokesman for the president, said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) sub-technical working group (sTWG) on data analysis had recommended stepping up reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.
In addition, the IATF sTWG on Data Analytics recommended the COVID-19 laboratory network to: (1) Increase RT-PCR testing capacity in NCR Plus areas to cope with the influx of tests by ensuring that laboratories are seven Days are operational for a week, ”Nograles said in a statement.
NCR Plus consists of the National Capital Region and the nearby provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal.
The sTWG is also pushing for testing of the elderly and those with comorbidities to be given priority.
The group also advised “speeding up applications for operating licenses for new RT-PCR laboratories and promptly providing goods for swabs and tests”.
The National Vaccination Operations Center has meanwhile been tasked with immediately increasing vaccination rates outside of Metro Manila.
In order to counter the increasing utilization of hospital care, the health facilities subcluster of the National Task Force (NTF) should increase the availability of bed capacities in NCR Plus.
The NTF is also instructed to “coordinate with relevant stakeholders to incorporate capacity monitoring of Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs) into its measurement of health systems capacity; ensure that dependent patients are referred promptly and appropriately; and reevaluate the capacity of TTMFs, increase TTMF capacity if necessary, and remove all referral rates from hospitals. “
The NTF and the Department of Health’s Field Implementation and Coordination Team (DOH) have been directed to speak to hospitals in Metro Manila to determine how COVID-19 bed capacity will be allocated.
The DOH Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service and the NTF are responsible for expanding telehealth capacities and telemedicine outside the capital region.
On the other hand, the One Hospital Command must “ensure that the capacities of the healthcare system are updated as soon as possible, based on the functional bed capacity, in order to take into account the available personnel in the healthcare sector”.
The Department of Home Affairs and Local Government (DILG) and the Community Response Cluster must ensure that operations centers with functional triage areas are in place.
“These are supposed to oversee patient navigation so that only those who need to be hospitalized are brought to health facilities,” said Nograles.
You also need to ensure that Barangay Health’s emergency response teams are monitoring those in isolation or quarantine and that testing, treatment and referrals to facilities are available to those in the sectors at risk.
The DILG and the Community Response Cluster must also “intensify the active case finding in the NCR Plus areas and intensify the active case finding and contact tracking strictly up to the 3rd generation in all areas under Alert Level 2”.
The IATF-sTWG recommendations have been approved and planned for implementation, said Nograles.
The DOH recorded 28,707 new COVID-19 cases that day, the highest daily number since the pandemic began.
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