Metro Manila is hunkering down for a new 15-day strict quarantine, heeding the warning of health frontliners who said they could soon get overwhelmed by rising infections. To address this, hospital bed capacity will be increased, the country’s Treatment Czar said Monday.
Hospital beds and isolation wards are now at 80% capacity, while intensive care units or ICUs are at 79%, nearing 80% capacity. Hospital directors were told to bump up hospital bed capacity by 30 to 40% should the situation worsen, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said.
“Hindi lang ito timeout kundi itong panahon na ito is an opportunity and a window for us to make sure na we will be able to respond and be prepared for any eventuality (This is not just a timeout, but this time is an opportunity and a window for us to make sure that we will be able to respond and be prepared for any eventuality),” he said in a virtual press conference.
To make room for moderate to severe cases, mild and asymptomatic patients are encouraged to stay in designated isolation centers or hotels instead of filling up beds in hospitals, he said, adding,“Ito’y isang paraan na (This is one way that) we will be able to decongest most hospitals."
The Department of Works and Highways is finishing the construction and conversion of hospital wings in to increase bed capacity, he said. At the East Avenue Medical Center, a five-story facility will have 250 beds available, and 30 beds for ICUs.
The Philippine General Hospital will have additional wards, the Quirino Memorial Hospital will have 20 to 30 new isolation rooms for moderate cases, the Quezon Institute will add 110 to 130 more beds for moderate to severe cases, and the Lung Center of the Philippines is set to convert its isolation rooms into ICUs, Vega said.
Over the weekend, medical workers called on the government for a “timeout” and a better pandemic response. Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan will shift back to modified enhanced community quarantine, or MECQ, from Aug. 4 to 18 in response to the pleas and as a means to curb the spread of the virus. Under MECQ, mass transportation is prohibited and only essential businesses and services are allowed to operate on limited capacity.
Quarantine passes and checkpoints are also set to make a return to ensure that those in public are only out for essential errands.