Hospitals in regions near Metro Manila are ready to accommodate patients from the metropolis in case medical centers in the capital reach full capacity, the Department of Health spokesperson said Friday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a virtual forum such referrals had been made to Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in Pampanga and other hospitals outside the capital region.
"The government will do everything to extend health care to patients in the event there would be no more space in Metro Manila,” she said.
But Vergeire said the Philippines was not likely to reach a point when medical frontliners would be faced with the difficult situation of choosing who lives and who dies among COVID-19 patients.
Replying to questions, Vergeire said she did not think scenarios abroad would likely be repeated in the country.
The number of people infected with COVID-19 in the Philippines reached 119,460 on Thursday, 50,473 of whom are active cases.
More than half of the active cases are found in Metro Manila which has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine again until August 18.
As of August 6, 79 persons of the total 552 ICU beds, 77 percent of the 3,500 isolation beds, and 86 percent of the total 1,600 ward beds dedicated for COVID-19 in Metro Manila were occupied, based on DOH data.
Of the 829 mechanical ventilators in the region, 50 percent are in use.
In a related incident, the DOH on Thursday launched the One Hospital Command, a system that aims to facilitate seamless referrals of COVID-19 cases in hospitals and isolation facilities.
Meanwhile, Vergeire said the pooled testing” should only be used in specific sectors, as this would not be effective in areas with high prevalence of COVID-19 infections.
According to Vergeire, if the authorities pooled the samples, this would have to be conducted on an individual basis, and if the specimens were negative in the pooled sample, that would mean all those in the samples would be negative.
Vergeire said this strategy could be used among specific sectors such as vendors and bank tellers, for example.
"We would be able to save on testing kits as well as on time,” she said in Filipino.
The evaluation of the pilot run of pooled testing is expected to be completed next week.