MANILA - The number of areas under the highest COVID-19 alert level increased to 54 on Saturday, the health department said, as hospitals reach critical to full capacity due to the continued stream of virus infections.
"Ito pong pagtaas ng kaso ay nakikita natin. Ang kailangan lang po nating gawin lahat ngayon ay patuloy na maghanda... most importantly, we have to cut transmission in the community," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a public briefing.
(We are seeing a spike in cases. What's more important is to continue our preparations and cut transmission in the community)
A total of 39 areas in the country are currently under Alert Level 3, which means that their COVID-19 case count is high and increasing, and almost or more than 70 percent of their hospital beds are currently occupied.
She did not elaborate on the areas under Alert Level 3 during the briefing.
Vergeire did not enumerate all the 54 areas under Alert Level 4, where more than 70 percent of hospital bed capacity has already been used up.
She just mentioned the following:
- Las Piñas
- San Juan
- Quezon City
Some areas in these regions were also placed under the highest COVID-19 alert level, according to the health official.
- Cordillera Administrative Region
- Ilocos Region
- Cagayan Valley
- Central Luzon
- Bicol Region
- Western Visayas
- Central Visayas
- Eastern Visayas
- Northern Mindanao
Courtesy of PTV
The DOH also said they are expanding the capacity of their hospitals by converting covered courts, function halls, and conference rooms into wards.
Some modular hospitals and tents were also established, she said, as her agency also started procuring additional oxygen tanks.
"Marami pa ho, may adequate stocks pa po tayo (oxygen tanks). Ang problema po natin ngayon would be ang hoarding ng mga tao na ginagawa... We are stockpiling on medicines for all of our hospitals, we have downloaded funds already para po makapag-procure na rin ng mga kinakailangan," she added.
(We have adequate supply of oxygen. The problem now is the hoarding of people with these supplies)
The DOH has also allotted funds for the hiring of additional health care workers, according to her.
“Nagbaba rin tayo ng pera sa mga ospital para kahit sila po ay makapag-start ng hiring nang mabilis na proseso."
(We already distributed money for the hospitals so they could start hiring.)
On Friday, the Philippines reported over 13,000 new COVID-19 cases, the 2nd highest daily rise since the pandemic reached the country.
Hundreds of hospitals in the country are nearing full capacity, with some facilities reporting they have run out of intensive care unit beds for COVID-19 patients, leaving health care workers, who are forced to work longer hours, exhausted.
The intensive care unit (ICU) occupation rate in Metro Manila is at 60 percent from 68 percent on Thursday, the latest bulletin showed.
Nationwide, the ICU utilization rate is at 66 percent.
The capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities that is home to 13 million people, remains under a strict lockdown to contain the spread of the Delta variant, while the government tries to speed up its vaccination drive.
- With reports from Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News, and Reuters