As of April 1, 2020, the Department of Health has confirmed 227 new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), bringing the total cases in the country to 2,311. With this rising number, some hospitals have already declared that they are running on full capacity and can not take on more COVID-19 positive patients and Patients Under Investigation or PUIs.
The Makati Medical City, The Medical City in Pasig and St. Luke’s Medical Center both in Quezon City and at the Bonifacio Global City, Chinese General Hospital in Manila, The Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa, and Delos Santos Medical Center in Quezon City have already asked COVID-19 patients to seek treatment elsewhere as there are no more rooms available.
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The St. Martin de Porres Charity Hospital and San Juan Medical Center are also expected to hit full capacity. Meanwhile, the Philippine Heart Center, which recently lost two of their cardiologists, Dr. Raul Jara and Dr. Israel Bactol to Covid-19, is also appealing to patients to seek treatment elsewhere as their vulnerable, high-risk patients might be compromised by infection.
Still accepting patients
There are some hospitals that are still, at the moment, accepting Metro Manila’s COVID-19 positive patients and those that are classified as PUIs. Among them are Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center in Mandaluyong, San Juan De Dios Hospital in Pasay, Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan, Trinity Medical Center, Pasig Doctors Medical Center, United Doctors Medical Center and World Citi Medical Center in Quezon City, Cruz-Rabe Hospital in Taguig, and Medical Center Taguig. Medical Center Manila, Medical Center Muntinlupa, Alabang Medical Center, and the University of Perpetual Help Dalta Medical Center still have the capacity to accept COVID-19 patients
The Department of Health has also mandated several government hospitals throughout the metro to provide care for COVID-19 patients. These are Las Pinas General Hospital, San Lorenzo Ruiz General Hospital in Malabon and the Valenzuela Medical Center. The Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Marikina, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa, Rizal Medical Center in Pasig are likewise mandated by the DOH as Covid-19 treatment centers.
The University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (PGH) has been designated by the DOH as a COVID Referral Center, along with the Dr. Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan and Lung Center of the Philippines. These are government hospitals where the most critical cases are brought.
The Quezon Institute, which is run by the Philippine Tuberculosis Society Inc., is now being readied to admit positive COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms as well as PUIs (Persons Under Investigation) with mild symptoms, who are endorsed by COVID-19 centers and other medical facilities coordinated by the DOH Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU).
PPEs, personnel, and test kits
Aside from the lack of rooms, hospital staff that are now under quarantine have also presented a challenge. Hundreds of healthcare workers are now PUIs themselves as they had to face the virus with a serious lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
The Philippine Medical Association Commission on Legislation chairperson Dr. Oscar Tinio estimated in an ABS-CBN interview that more than 5 percent of the country’s health workers are currently under quarantine because of their exposure to the virus.
About 150 doctors and allied health care providers were under quarantine at The Medical City as of March 20. The University of Sto. Tomas Hospital also has 530 staff quarantined as of last March 23. Today, the Asian Hospital and Medical Center tally is at 13 professional and hospital staff under quarantine. This is a big blow in an already overwhelmed field, with a ratio of 1:40,000 doctor to patient ratio that is far from the 1:10,000 ratio recommended by the World Health Organization.
PPEs have been in short supply, with donations primarily coming in from the private sector. The government is now stepping in, with the first batch of 15,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment from China that have been distributed in different government hospitals dealing with COVID-19 cases.
What can be seen as a good sign is the better testing capacity of the DOH. From the initial testing kit number of 2,000, the Philippines has been receiving donations of testing kits from China, South Korea, and Singapore, with a stock of 100,000 testing kits available, with nine hospitals accredited to conduct the tests. Aside from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the DOH has other subnational laboratories in government hospitals in other parts of the country, including the Lung Center of the Philippines and San Lazaro Hospital in Metro Manila, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Luzon, The Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Visayas, and the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Mindanao.
The capacity for COVID-19 testing is now pegged at 1,000 units per day. As of April 4, the DOH has 3,094 confirmed cases, 57 recoveries, and 144 fatalities. Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., who is also part of the National Task Force on COVID-19 has said in his April 2 statement that the task force sees mass testing for the novel coronavirus disease to start by April 14.