Villanueva: Most critical COVID-19 cases and nearly half who died did not get hospital care
File photo shows Sen. Joel Villanueva.
The STAR/File
Villanueva: Most critical COVID-19 cases and nearly half who died did not get hospital care
( - August 19, 2020 - 6:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — Almost half of Filipinos who have died of novel coronavirus had not been admitted to a hospital, a lawmaker said, citing data from the Department of Health.

Sen. Joel Villanueva pressed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on this during a Senate hearing held Tuesday as the top health official drew flak from several other lawmakers for the country's response to the pandemic.

"Of the 2,681 deaths attributed to COVID-19, some 1,286 of those patients — 48 percent — were never admitted to hospitals or medical facilities," Villanueva said, citing DOH data released August 17.

Slide presented by Sen. Joel Villanueva during a Senate hearing on August 18, 2020. 

The senator added that 73% of COVID-19 cases categorized as critical did not receive treatment at medical facilities.

"I wanted to find out... what explains the fact that among active cases, there are more patients with severe and critical conditions who are not admitted than admitted?"

"There are only three possibilities. First, it could be that we have no hospitals. Second, the hospitals are full. Third, [those infected] are scared to pay and they are unaware that PhilHealth can help them with this," Villanueva added in Filipino.

Duque responded by thanking Villanueva for bringing the data to his attention which prompted the senator to remind him that he was citing figures released by the Department of Health.

"I will have this validated, your honor, because this is not good to see. That those who should have been hospitalized were not," Duque said in a mix of English and Filipino.

"It saddens me that they were not admitted despite being severe and critical. Perhaps we can give you our contact number so we can follow up," the health secretary added.

More than half the Senate has called on Duque to resign over his alleged mishandling of the country's health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meantime, infections in the Philippines breached 170,000 on Wednesday, with 4650 additional cases bringing the national caseload to 173, 774, according to DOH.

Another 111 fatalities brought the country's total coronavirus-related deaths to 2,795. — Bella Perez-Rubio

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