Manila city gov't says only admitting severe or critical COVID-19 patients in hospitals

Manila city gov't says only admitting severe or critical COVID-19 patients in hospitals
This photo shows the Ospital ng Sampaloc in the city of Manila.
The STAR / Ernie Peñaredondo, file

MANILA, Philippines — Only severe and critical COVID-19 cases will be admitted in the six city hospitals in Manila, Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso — a presidential aspirant — announced Tuesday. 

Moreno said he issued the directive to hospital directors, the Manila Health Department, and the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to optimize the city's utilization of hospital beds and other resources amid the surge of the Omicron variant and keep hospitals open for other patients experiencing other ailments.

Under the policy shift in the city, patients of COVID-19 who have mild symptoms but have underlying conditions and who are in need of proper hospital care would be admitted, the Manila chief said in a statement sent to reporters. 

"For that, we can use the hospital for its original purpose — give proper attention to other diseases that afflict our countrymen, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetics or those in need of dialysis, childbirth or babies,” Moreno said.

Those who are asymptomatic or experiencing very mild symptoms will be asked to isolate in their homes if they have available space, while those who do not have spaces will be taken to the city’s quarantine facilities.

"If we keep accepting COVID-19 patients who are mild [cases] but healthy persons, we will run out of space and resources for other diseases. This will cause the death of our compatriots who are not COVID-19. They also need ample care," Moreno said.

During the Delta variant spike in August, the Department of Health also urged hospitals to admit only severe and critical COVID-19 cases as asymptomatic cases or those experiencing mild symptoms can be treated in smaller facilities.

Per data provided by the DOH and cited by the MMDA, Metro Manila's bed utilization as of Monday includes:

  • 52% ICU bed utilization
  • 54% isolation bed utilization 
  • 67% of ward beds 
  • 25% of ventilators 

Bed occupancy is considered at moderate risk if the utilization rate is between 60% and 70%.

Moreno cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority which showed that COVID-19 only accounted for 5.7 percent of the total deaths recorded nationwide from January to June 2021, making it the fifth leading cause of death for that period behind ischaemic heart diseases (18.7%); cerebrovascular diseases (10.2%); Neoplasms or “cancer” (9.0%); and diabetes mellitus (6.5%). 

Moreno said many frontliners have already been infected by the Omicron variant. 

City still giving out anti-COVID drugs

In the meantime, Moreno said, the city government received an additional 20,000 Molnupiravir tablets to replenish its stocks after more than 30,000 of the tablets were consumed by COVID-positive individuals all over Luzon. 

Another 20,000 Molnupiravir tablets are expected to arrive either Monday or Tuesday. Moreno reminded the public that all anti-Covid drugs in the city’s arsenal are available for free to “anybody” who needed them. 

"Manila has an open policy so that people can live — with medicine, vaccines, swab tests, we're making sure everything is free as much as we can," Moreno said. 

Manila City also extended the filing of business permits until March 31 in support to the city’s business sector. 

“As a matter of support for our businesses...under Resolution 289, the deadline for the filing of business permit is now until March 31,” Moreno said. He said extending the deadline was necessary to prevent the influx of local traders who wanted to beat the original January 20 deadline to avoid incurring penalties. 

The six Manila district hospitals are:

  • Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Hospital (150-200 bed capacity),
  • Ospital ng Tondo (50 beds),
  • Justice Abad Santos Medical Center (150 beds),
  • Ospital ng Sampaloc (50 beds),
  • Sta. Ana Hospital (200 beds),
  • New Ospital ng Maynila (384-bed capacity with 12 intensive care units and 30 private rooms)
  • Manila COVID-19 Field Hospital with 344-bed capacity. 

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