Mild COVID-19 cases that are already admitted in hospitals would not be force-transferred to government quarantine facilities, Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on July 17.
"Hindi natin pipilitin na lumabas ng ospital ang isang pasyente kung nandun na sila. Patapusin na natin 'yan kung hanggang 14 days pa sila diyan o hanggang maging asymptomatic sila kung mild sila," Vergeire said in a forum.
Those who are already confined would not be transferred, but moving forward, mild cases would not be admitted in hospitals.
"Ang ginagawa natin ngayon proactive tayo, I mean hindi tayo magre-retroactive, meaning kung sino lang ang mga darating ngayon, 'yun na 'yun ipapatupad ang protocol at kailangan sumunod ng mga ospital," she added.
According to Vergeire, majority of the mild cases confined at hospitals have other sicknesses or diseases, which makes them more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
"Usually ang mga mild na nandito sa mga ospital , mayroon silang ibang sakit kaya binabantayan talaga sila ng kanilang private practitioners," she said.
Vergeire stressed that government hospitals know that patients showing no symptoms—or asymptomatic cases—or mild symptoms should not be admitted, as severe cases of COVID-19 must be prioritized.
She added that even private hospitals would strictly follow this instruction to avoid having too many COVID-19 patients and reaching full capacity.
The Philippines currently has 14 mega quarantine facilities and centers nationwide meant to isolate asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases. Vergeire said the occupancy rate of these centers has not reached maximum capacity yet.
"Ngayon ang ating mega facilities na mayroon tayo, almost 50% pa lang ang occupancy kaya nga hinihikayat natin ang local government units natin na magkaroon ng network with this temporary monitoring facilities para everytime na they will identify mild and asymptomatic tapos hindi talaga posible ang home quarantine, they can refer directly to these facilities," she said.
DOH reports that over 33,000 or 93% of the country’s total COVID-19 active cases are outside hospitals.
Vergeire was asked if home quarantines were the reason for the spike in cases, and she said there no one reason for the increasing number.
"There are a lot of factors now kung bakit tumataas ang kaso, hindi lang siya because of one single reason, marami pang ibang factors na puwede," she said.
She clarified that the home quarantine protocols—patients must have their own room, bathroom, with no vulnerable people in the household—have been in place since April.
Earlier this week, the government said policemen would aid local government units in transferring asymptomatic or mild cases from home quarantine and into government isolation facilities. However, Vergeire said home quarantine would still be allowed, provided that the quarantine conditions are met.
As of July 16, 4 p.m., the Philippines has recorded 61,266 COVID-19 cases, with 21,440 recoveries and 1,643 deaths.