Gov't 'open' to hire more health workers, eyes increasing COVID-19 bed capacity


Posted at Mar 22 2021 10:35 AM | Updated as of Mar 22 2021 11:03 AM

Tents are set-up to accommodate probable or suspected COVID-19 patients outside the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Tondo, Manila on August 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - The government is considering an increase in COVID-19 bed allocations in state-run hospitals and augment the number of health workers nationwide due to the surge of virus cases, the country's treatment czar said Monday.

Several Metro Manila hospitals earlier declared full capacity as coronavirus cases continued to rise in the capital region, home to a tenth of the country's population.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said the number of cases was "worrying" and "an indicator that we might have problems in terms of overwhelming our systems capacity."

"What we would like to do is... government hospitals need to allocate more from 30 percent to 50 percent. They have to put elective cases on the backburner," he told ANC's Headstart.

"We are doing as much as we can in terms of physically expanding bed allocation for COVID, and making sure there are more isolation centers and TTMFs (temporary treatment and monitoring facilities)," he told ANC's Headstart.

Government is also prepared to augment the number of health workers in hospitals nationwide, Vega added.

"We can actually hire or augment the healthcare workers across the different institutions. They will be paid in an emergency basis for augmentation," he said.

"As of now, I think we’re still maintaining 12,000 augmented health workers across the country if there is a gap, a need...then the DOH is open in terms of augmentation, of emergency hiring."

The Philippine Hospital Association earlier called for "reinforcement" from health-related agencies to ease the burden of medical frontliners.

Hospitals in Metro Manila are projected to reach full capacity by Holy Week if government fails to slow down COVID-19 transmission, independent research group OCTA earlier warned.

The Philippines on Sunday tallied 7,757 new cases of COVID-19, raising its total to 663,794. It could reach 10,000 daily new cases by the end of the month, half likely to be recorded in Metro Manila, if the current daily trend continues, OCTA said.

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