No need for 'timeout' yet despite COVID-19 surge, says doctors' group

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2021 09:56 PM

Members of the Makati Public Safety Department organize food packs before distribution in Cuanco Street in Brgy. Pio Del Pilar, Makati City on March 13, 2021, the first day of a three-day lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. ABS-CBN News

Despite the spike in the number of admissions for COVID-19, hospitals today are better able to manage the cases compared to August last year when health workers asked for a "timeout," officials of the Philippine College of Physicians said. 

“Even if we have almost the same number of cases, I would like to believe that the way the government is dealing with this problem right now is better to the one we had last year. We still don’t have any plans of asking for a time out, but we are open to communicating with the government,” said PCC Regent Dr. Nemencio Nicodemus Jr.

Nicodemus said that last year, there was no "integrated approach" to the surge in infections, which prompted them to ask for a time out. 

“Mabuti’t nakinig ang pamahalaan, kaya nagkaroon ng mas magandang approach sa paglutas sa COVID,” Nicodemus said.

(It's good that the government listened and there's now a better approach to solving COVID.)

Infectious diseases specialist and PCP treasurer Dr. Rontgene Solante gave two reasons why he isn't calling for a stricter lockdown at this point in time.

"One, we have been used to managing our patients with COVID. It’s been several months now, and most of us have already adapted to this way of life. Second, we are more prepared now, we know the more important things in clinical management,” Solante said. 

Nicodemus however also said they are worried over the spike in COVID-19 cases. 

”The sad reality, we see a lot of them in severe stages. Ito ang mga kababayan natin (These are our countrymen) who have to be intubated, and of course, some eventually die because of these cases. We, in the medical community, are worried about the rising numbers of COVID cases, but we do our best to make sure we provide them the health care they need to recover,” Nicodemus said.

Seventy percent of bed allocations for COVID-19 cases at the Philippine General Hospital are now occupied.

At the San Lazaro Hospital, 60 percent of COVID-19 bed allocations are also occupied, Solante said.

The Quezon City General Hospital also reported that it already reached its COVID-19 capacity several days ago.

Solante meanwhile commended LGUs for their efforts in trying to curb the spread of the disease, and said he hopes local leaders can sustain these measures. 

"The point of battle now is not just in the hospitals, but also in the LGUs where contact tracing, active case finding and granular lockdowns will really be an important step and determinant on how people will get the infection,” Solante said. 

Medical experts said that besides the new coronavirus variants, looser restrictions and the public’s complacency on health protocols also contributed to the spike in cases.

“Probably the variant can be a factor… But if you look at the number of those tested for these variants, medyo konti pa naman… But I think ang importante pa rin is ang mobility, crowding and non-adherence to (minimum health protocols).”

Health experts advise the public to continue wearing face masks and face shields properly, maintain physical distance, leave the house only for necessities, and get vaccinated if given the opportunity.

Watch more in iWantTFC