PH's health capacity improves as coronavirus spread slows, says Duque


Posted at May 06 2021 12:24 AM | Updated as of May 06 2021 12:40 AM

PH's health capacity improves as coronavirus spread slows, says Duque 1
Patients are watched over by relatives and hospital aides inside the COVID-19 emergency room of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute on April 26, 2021 in Quezon City, which has declared overcapacity following a surge of COVID-19 infections in Metro Manila. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters/file

MANILA - The country's healthcare utilization rate has improved in recent weeks, as the growth of COVID-19 infections has slowed down, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Wednesday.

During President Rodrigo Duterte's taped address, Duque said the Philippines' overall healthcare utilization rate dropped by 4.7 percent to 49 percent as of May 4, from mid-April's 53.7 percent.

"Patuloy na bumubuti ang ating healthcare and ICU utilization nationwide dahil nagkaroon tayo ng pagkakataon na palawigin ang health system capacity noong tayo ay nagtaas ng ECQ at maingat na nag-transition naman sa MECQ," said Duque. 

(Our healthcare and ICU utilization rate nationwide continued to improve due to the extension of stricter lockdowns, and our transition to MECQ from ECQ.) 

Nationwide, dedicated intensive care units (ICU) beds are 64 percent occupied, down from 68.3 percent in the same period.

Likewise, isolation beds are currently at 45 percent occupancy from 50.6 percent, while mechanical ventilators are also used up at 42 percent from the peak 47.9 percent, according to Duque's presentation. 

Meanwhile, in Metro Manila, ICU beds are 71 percent filled up, while isolation beds are 51 percent utilized, as well as ward beds (58 percent) and mechanical ventilators (53 percent). 

The country's top health official attributed this to the reintroduction of stricter lockdowns in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, which also led to the decline of the virus' growth.

"Mayroon po tayong nakikitang pag-unlad, improvements, una rito ang pagbaba ng kaso sa buong Pilipinas at bumabagal din ang pagtaas ng mga kaso," he said. 

The Philippines' healthcare utilization rate is expected to ease in the coming weeks due to the effect of such lockdowns, he added.

Despite the developments, however, some hospitals are still announcing high to critical capacity due to the stream of new admissions, still far from ideal operations. 


Duque also said that the average daily attack rate (ADAR) per 100,000 people in the country is at 7.8 percent daily from April 18 to May 1 from 9.2 percent between April 4 to 17.


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"Kung ito ay bababa pa, less than 7, ay mas maganda po dahil magiging moderate risk classification na po ang buong Pilipinas dahil sa ngayon po ay nasa moderate to high risk pa rin po tayo," he explained. 

(If this would be lessened to less than 7, then it will be better because it would downgrade our risk classification to moderate. Right now we are still in moderate to high risk) 

DAR is the number of new cases in a city or province over a two-week period, divided by the population of the city or province.

The growth rate was also at -15 percent nationwide during the same period, slower from the 11 percent from the previous 2 weeks, he said. 

The country has so far tallied over 1.073 million COVID-19 cases, with over 62,000 remaining active infections. 

A total 17,800 individuals, meanwhile, already died due to the virus.