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Government to provinces: Increase bed capacity for COVID-19 patients

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Government to provinces: Increase bed capacity for COVID-19 patients
A health worker fixes at bed at East Avenue Medical Centers’ Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease in Quezon City on August 17, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Increasing hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients would prevent provinces from being placed under stricter alert levels, Malacañang said, as it urged regional health offices to continue monitoring the health care capacities of local governments.

Acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the government is monitoring the situation in Bataan, Iloilo City, Ormoc City, Naga City, Dagupan City, Western Samar, Tacloban City, Biliran and Zamboanga del Sur, which are among the areas that are under Alert Level 3 because of rising pandemic infections.

“With regard to other areas, we’re also consistently monitoring them, advising them. We are triggering now or we are now pushing the regional IATFs (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and the regional task forces also to help us in monitoring the dedicated beds,” Nograles said at a press briefing last Friday.

“If they increase their dedicated COVID beds, then they (would) stay in Alert Level 3, but if they breach the threshold, then we have no choice but to escalate them (to a stricter classification). That’s why actively, we are coordinating with them, the respective LGUs (local government units) to look at their metrics,” he added.

Nograles previously said that the bed utilization rate would be classified as high risk if it reaches 71 percent.

Areas with high risk bed utilization rate, average daily attack rate or the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population and two-week growth rate may be escalated to Alert Level 4, the second most stringent classification.

“We need to increase the dedicated beds for COVID so it won’t reach the threshold of 71 percent bed utilization (rate) and... that’s one of the points we are pushing to LGUs,” Nograles said.

Business establishments and activities in areas under Alert Level 4 are allowed only up to 10 percent capacity for indoor venues and 30 percent for outdoor venues.

For Alert Level 3 areas, the allowed maximum capacity is 30 percent for indoor venues and 50 percent for outdoor venues. Only vaccinated individuals can enter indoor venues.

Four provinces will be under Alert Level 4 until the end of the month, namely Kalinga, Ifugao, and Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region and Northern Samar in Eastern Visayas.

Several areas, including Metro Manila, are under Alert Level 3.
Six regions are classified as critical risk because of the high growth in COVID-19 infections, namely Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, Calabarzon, Cordillera Administrative Region and Central Luzon. The rest of the regions are classified as high risk.

The entire Philippines is at critical risk, but its health care utilization rate is still at low risk as of last week.

The IATF has ordered the interior and health departments and its regional units to address the low percentage of dedicated beds for COVID-19 by augmenting the human resources for health and decongesting hospitals of mild and asymptomatic cases through step-down facilities.

The task force has also called for the establishment of functional LGU emergency operations centers and the strengthening of LGU and community access and preference for home care services among mild and asymptomatic cases.

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