NCR mayors asked to allocate beds for coronavirus patients

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2020 01:07 AM

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) workers finish a new quarantine facility for asymptomatic and mild patients using repurposed container vans from the Quezon City local government, with rooms equipped with hospital beds, a bathroom, and air-conditioning,on August 18, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - Metro Manila mayors were advised to allocate at least 1,000 beds in their respective cities for isolation of mild COVID-19 patients, and dedicate around 250 hospital beds for severe cases.

National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. gave this recommendation on Thursday, backing the “no home quarantine” strategy, saying the practice of home quarantine led to community transmission in some regions. 

He said those who will test positive for COVID-19 should be brought to quarantine facilities or hospitals, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

“Una na nakita natin na lapses ang common practice na home quarantine na naging sanhi ng malawakang community transmission sa Metro Manila, Region 4a, Region 7, Iligan, Bacolod, at iba pang lugar ng buong bansa,” Galvez said in a virtual press conference.

“Naninindigan po tayo sa ating paniniwalang hindi makakabuti ang home quarantine sa karamihan ng mga pasyente, especially for mild or asymptomatic cases. Katulad po ng ating nasabi, sa tahanan po mabilis na kumalat ang sakit. Dahil medyo relaxed po tayo. Doon tayo medyo unguarded, dito sa ating mga bahay,” he explained.

“The longer a COVID-19 patient stays in his home, the greater the chances that he or she will infect others among his relatives and family. Kaya kung may nag-positibo po sa inyong kapamilya, ipagbigay alam po ninyo agad sa mga awtoridad… upang madala siya sa pinakamalapit na quarantine facility,” he added.

At present, the country has 10,599 Ligtas-COVID centers, or treatment facilities, with a total bed capacity of 164,256. There are also 19 Mega Temporary Treatment and Management facilities with 3,031 beds, 67 percent of which are occupied. The 22 isolation hotels have an occupancy rate of 79 percent.

Galvez said a quarantine facility in Nayong Pilipino in Pasay City with 600 beds is expected to be completed soon. The Calamba Regional Office has also been converted into a quarantine facility, with 533 beds.

Meantime, COVID-19 dedicated hospital beds increased by 1,006 in the country. 

These are in East Avenue Medical Center - Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (CERID), Rizal Medical Center, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital Sanitarium, UP-Philippine General Hospital, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Quezon Institute, and Batangas Medical Center.

Galvez said this is in response to the reported “surge” in severe and critical cases brought to hospitals.

PH TESTS MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION

More than 2.6 million Filipinos have been tested for the deadly virus, according to Galvez.

“Sa atin pong update sa ating testing capacity, nalagpasan na po natin ang ating target na 32,000 tests a day. Noong Agosto 27, nakapagtala na po tayo ng 41,934 tests ng araw na 'yon. Mayroon na po tayong total na 2,666,941 tests na naisagawa,” he said.

The government is studying the possibility of using antigen and saliva tests for COVID-19. These tests are seen to generate faster results than the RT-PCR testing, currently being used in the country. But experts are still validating their accuracy.

He noted that inadequate knowledge of conducting contact tracing has also been one of the gaps in implementing the national action plan against COVID-19. Galvez said Valenzuela City and Baguio City’s contact tracing systems may be used as models for LGUs.

HELPLINES FOR MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS

The national government and some local governments have set up helplines, which COVID-19 patients and other individuals may call to ease worries and psychosocial concerns like depression. Galvez said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered depression and anxiety among some individuals.

“Naniniwala kami na napakalaki talaga ng psychological impact ng sakit sa mga pasyente, lalo na sa ating mga locally stranded individuals na feeling rejected, returning overseas Filipinos at health frontliners,” Galvez said.

“We have also learned that it is not only the COVID-19 patients who are being affected emotionally but their families as well. Pati na po ang ating healthcare workers na karamihan ay nadi-discriminate ng kanilang kapitbahay. Sila ay nakararanas din ng pagkalungkot at depresyon dahil sa pag-aalala sa kanilang kapamilyang nagkasakit,” he added.

Galvez said Quezon City, Paranaque and Valenzuela have set up telemedicine and counseling stations to ease psychological burden of the public amid the pandemic.