MANILA—The chair of the House Committee on Health warned Monday the Philippine healthcare system is already on the "brink of collapse" due to the COVID-19 crisis, as the country's coronavirus cases breached the 1 million mark.
Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina "Helen" Tan, the House health panel chair, issued the statement as the House Ways and Means Committee approved the tax provisions of her proposed Substitute Bill on Health Procurement and Stockpiling Act.
“We are already at the brink of a collapse of our health system capacity with more COVID-19 patients coming in, more infected healthcare workers, and lack of hospital beds. Aside from that, supply of vaccines from the start was scarce, and supply of medicines, such as remdesivir and others, are also declining due to high demand," she said in her speech before the Committee on Ways and Means.
"To add more to our challenges, we have also been receiving news reports of hoarding COVID-19 vaccines and raw materials for its production, especially when the US invoked its National Defense Production Act, which would definitely shake the steady supply of vaccines around the globe."
With 8,929 new infections on Monday, the Philippines brought its total number of COVID-19 cases past 1 million -- 1,006,428 to be exact -- as the country continued to bear the brunt of a virus surge that has pushed hospitals in the capital region near breaking point.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, the Philippines is the 26th in the world to reach the grim milestone, and the second in Southeast Asia.
The Philippines ripped through the 800,000, 900,000, and the 1-million marks all in April, the ABS-CBN Data Analytics also showed.
Meanwhile, Malacañang glossed over those grim numbers, saying the country has managed new, more infectious COVID-19 variants "well".
Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the public should look at the number of recoveries, which stood at 914,952, accounting for 90.2 percent of the country's total recorded cases.
The country's fatality rate from the novel coronavirus remains lower than the global average, Roque added.
The Philippines was slower than most of its neighbors in rolling out vaccines after supply shortages hobbled government efforts to secure millions of doses to inoculate at least 70 million of its 108 million people this year, in a bid to achieve herd immunity.
The country suffered its worst economic contraction on record last year, when it slumped 9.5 percent, the biggest decline in Southeast Asia and one of the worst in all of Asia.--With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News