DOH: Health system capacity to determine COVID-19 lockdowns

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2020 09:56 PM | Updated as of Oct 15 2020 12:06 AM


MANILA — Following recommendations from various groups, the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said the government will impose strict quarantine measures based mainly on the health system’s capacity to handle COVID-19 patients. 

“Ang magiging major determinant natin ngayon is the health system capacity,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(The major determinant now is the health system capacity.)

“Kung ang isang lugar po bagamat tumataas ang kaso nila pero ang health system ay maaaring makaagapay tulad ng mga ospital mababa ang utilization, katulad ng mga temporary treatment and monitoring facilities,” she said, adding that they will also check if the local government has adequate contact tracing and testing. “Maaari po hindi natin sila bigyan ng rekomendasyon na magsara sila ng mahigpit dahil yung kanilang health system ay makakaagapay when in case their numbers will continue to increase.”

(If one area is seeing an increase in cases but their health system is able to keep up. For example, their hospitals and temporary treatment and monitoring facilities have low utilization…We might not recommend that they undergo strict lockdown because their health system can cope even if the numbers will continue to increase.)

Vergeire said this when asked about the OCTA Research Group’s recommendation for the government to impose stricter measures on several areas.

The health official also acknowledged the OCTA group’s analysis, saying that they are using the same data.

She said they note recommendations coming from different institutions. She said the OCTA Group, which is composed of professors from the University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas, also regularly coordinates with them. 

“Kung sakaling nakita ng OCTA report na may mga tumataas na bahagi ng bansa dahil dito sa attack rates, nano-note. Pareho lang tayo may analysis,” she said.

(If in the OCTA report they saw an increase in cases in some areas of the country because of the attack rates, we note that. We also have an analysis.)

She also assured the public that the government has given its recommendations to local government units.

Vergeire explained that some decisions no longer require approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19.

“Para hindi na umakyat sa IATF ang desisyon at mabigyan agad ng karampatang aksyon, binibigyan natin ng authority ang local government units so they can do their granular lockdowns if ever they would see that their cases are rising and kung sakali nakikita nila nahihirapan makaagapay ang kanilang health system,” she said.

(We already gave local government units authority to do granular lockdowns if ever they would see that their cases are rising and if they see that their health system is having difficulties. This is so that the decision won’t need to be raised to the IATF.)

The health official also noted that the COVID-19 data being released by the Office of the Vice President also comes from them although they are using different indicators.

She said that while Vice President Leni Robredo uses the total number of active cases per area, they are looking at the daily number of active cases and how it compares to previous weeks.

“For us to really see kung nagmomove po yan, kailangan nakikita natin yung growth rate (if we are able to improve, we need to see the growth rate),” she explained.

Vergeire acknowledged that the number of active cases in the National Capital Region is still high.

“Pero nakita natin nagsa-stabilize ang mga numero, bumababa paunti unti,” she said, 

(But we can see that the numbers are stabilizing and decreasing slowly.)