Number of COVID-related patients increases in hospitals after holiday season

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 11 2021 09:38 PM

MANILA - The number of COVID-related patients rose in some hospitals after the holiday festivities, but remain within “manageable” levels.

At the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City, confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases occupied 60% to 65% of COVID-dedicated beds after Christmas day, from the pre-holiday utilization rate of 50% to 60%, according to EAMC Officer in Charge- Medical Center Chief II Dr. Alfonso Nuñez III. 

“Sa ngayon manageable pa ito for East Avenue Medical Center… Kayang-kaya namin itong tugunan, kasi naghanda kami ng isang building para sa COVID-related patients even before Christmas and New Year holidays,” Nuñez told ABS-CBN News, adding that the number of COVID-related patients at the EAMC started declining after New Year’s day.

The Philippine Heart Center also saw an increase in the number of admitted COVID-related cases following the holiday season. Dr. Ma. Encarnita Limpin, who works at the PHC, however noted that the figures are still far from those in June, July, and August, when COVID wards and intensive care units were nearly filled.

“For the past week, medyo marami-rami na kaming pasyente ulit na nakikita sa emergency room na kailangan tingnan namin kasi marami sa kanila may mga respiratory symptoms, nilalagnat, masama ang katawan, so lahat ito ay tinitingnan natin, possible na COVID-19, and then medyo dumami na naman ang mga pasyente na naaadmit. Pero hindi pa naman doon sa level noong nakita natin noong June, July, August,” Limpin said.

“Dalawa (na pasyente) na lang ang nasa ICU (before the holidays). Ngayon, pagkatapos ng Pasko, biglang naging lima, naging pito. Sa regular wards, konti na lang din (before the holidays), apat na lang, tapos biglang napuno na naman ‘yung isang ward. Ganyan kalaki ang naging epekto. More than 100% ang increase, kung dito sa ospital,” she added. 

Limpin noted that the Heart Center has five COVID wards, which can accommodate around 12 patients each, and three ICUs, which can accommodate 10-12 patients each.

“Still manageable, pero dahil mayroon tayong event pa noong last week, ‘yung (Feast of the Black Nazarene) traslacion, na ine-expect namin can be a super spreader event, inihanda na namin ang aming sarili na dadami ang mga kaso,” she said.

Other healthcare workers and hospitals in Metro Manila are also bracing for a possible surge in COVID-cases following the Feast of the Black Nazarene last January 9th, which drew hundreds of thousands of devotees in Quiapo, Manila. 

“We are a bit scared. Kinakabahan at naghahanda ang healthcare workforce… ‘Yun yung pinaghahandaan natin, systems, the number of beds, even the referral network,” Philippine College of Emergency Medicine Dr. Pauline Convocar said.

The EAMC, meanwhile, said it is ready to increase its dedicated beds for COVID to 320 from the current 250, should COVID cases spike.

“Ongoing ngayon ‘yung hiring ng additional emergency health resources as provided by the Department of Health,” Nuñez said.

The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 urged local chief executives to cancel physical events that may draw crowds in celebration of the Feast of Sto. Niño this January.

“Ayaw naman namin maghihingi pa ulit kami ng MECQ or ECQ sa ating pangulo at sa ating pamahalaan. ‘Wag na natin hintayin na dumami pa. Dapat more on the prevention tayo. Kung pwedeng maiwasan na natin itong super spreader events na ito, umiwas na ho tayo,” Limpin, HPAAC’s co-convenor, said.

“Nanawagan kami sa local chief executives natin diyan sa Cebu, Tondo, at sa Iloilo, ‘wag na ho siguro tayo magkaroon ng isang event kung saan kailangan pa ho natin na magkaroon ng maraming pagsasama-sama ng mga tao. Puwede naman siguro natin i-celebrate ang kapistahan ng Sto. Nino virtually,” she added.

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