Major hospitals in Metro Manila on Tuesday closed their doors to additional patients seeking treatment for the COVID-19 coronavirus due to overcapacity, even as the Philippines saw its number of positive cases surge to 552 as the Department of Health reported 90 new cases, a new daily high.
In separate statements, St. Luke’s Medical Center in the cities of Quezon and Taguig, Makati Medical Center, and The Medical City in Pasig City all said they are unable to attend to more COVID-19 cases as several patients were still under their care.
READ: PH cases hit 462, deaths climb to 33
St. Luke’s said it could no longer accept coronavirus patients for confinement in its two hospitals but would still provide outpatient COVID-19 testing for qualified patients. Its emergency rooms meanwhile will continue to accommodate patients for outpatient medical services.
Both its hospitals are currently treating 48 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and 139 patients under investigation. Of St. Luke’s health frontliners, 592 are already under quarantine, its management said in a statement.
“Both hospitals have already exceeded maximum capacity and admitting more COVID-19 patients will seriously impact our ability to deliver the critical level of care and attention patients need at this time,” it said.
Makati Medical Center meanwhile said it has reached its “threshold in its capability to respond to more COVID-19 cases.”
“As such, we can no longer extend the same degree of care and attention for any additional admission for COVID-19 cases,” its medical director Dr. Saturnino Javier said in a statement.
The premier Makati hospital noted that its emergency department “will try” to give preliminary evaluation and treatment to patients but “cannot guarantee a room” for admission.
At present, close to 70 patients are admitted at Makati Medical, including those who are COVID-19 positive, it said. The patients, 15 percent of whom are in the intensive care unit, include some of the hospital’s health frontliners.
The Medical City urged incoming patients to seek medical attention elsewhere, citing overcapacity.
The Pasig City-based medical facility said it has 64 patients under investigations and 18 COVID-19 positive cases admitted in its ward and intensive care unit as of Monday. Of its health frontliners, 137 are in quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus patients.
“We do not wish at all to turn you away, but the reality is that we can no longer provide your loved-ones the care that they need,” it said.
The Department of Health said it was preparing three state hospitals ― the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City, and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City ― to serve as referral centers for COVID-19 patients following an appeal from the private sector.
As of Tuesday, Philippines’ COVID-19 cases rose to 552, with the Department of Health reporting an additional 90 new cases, a new daily high, as Luzon remained on lockdown in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
Of the total tally, two new patients have recovered, identified as PH130 and PH87, DOH said in its bulletin.
In other news, the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong said four more Filipinos tested positive for COVID-19, citing reports from the Hong Kong Health Department
“There are now seven Filipino COVID-19 positive patients undergoing treatment in various hospitals in Hong Kong,” the consulate said, in its Facebook account, bringing the total number of Filipinos in who contracted the disease in the Chinese area to 11.
Of the number, four have already recovered, based on data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The Philippine consulate assured it continues to extend all necessary assistance to those undergoing treatment.
Home-made face masks not bad, WHO says
THE World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said that do-it-yourself or home-made face masks are not 100 percent protective, but can provide some degree of protection. WHO Country Representative, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, said given the shortage of masks, stop-gap measures were all right in the sense that “any protection is better than no protection at all.”
He said the Philippines is doing the right thing in focusing its limited testing capabilities on people already showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as they are more contagious.
“Ninety percent of the disease is transmitted by symptomatic people. We need to focus expressly on those symptomatic people to maximize the benefit of the enhanced community quarantine that is being implemented,” Abeyasinghe said.
Put casinos to use, Leonen says
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen suggested that the national government to convert casinos that have been shut down to medical facilities to treat and accommodate patients infected with COVID-19.
“Remove all the gambling tables and you will have space for thousands of beds,” the magistrate said on his Twitter account.
Noting that in previous calamities, schools have been used as temporary shelters, Leonen said casinos would serve as better health care facilities.
Leonen also said that houses of worship such as churches and cathedrals could serve as temporary homes for the homeless during the national emergency.
Military official, wife test positive
A senior military official and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19 and are both confined at the V. Luna Medical Center, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
In a statement, AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said the officer has a history of foreign travel and was admitted to the medical facility and his spouse was treated as a patient under investigation on March 15.
“They have been undergoing proper medical management with the military officer now being asymptomatic. They will continue medical treatment until fully recovered and strictly following DOH imposed protocol for COVID-19 patients,” Santos said.
Evacuation centers tapped
TO augment the number of health facilities nationwide, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said 125 evacuation centers will be converted to facilities to treat COVID-19 patients.
He said 110 evacuation centers have already been completed, with access to both power and water. Fifteen more are on the way to completion, he said.
In Butuan, the evacuation centre has already been converted into a health facility specific to COVID-19 patients by the city government and the Butuan City Medical Center.
Villar said that the DPWH have already conducted a joint inspection with Department of Health of possible location sites ― such as in SanGabriel in Tuguegarao, San Pablo in Isabela, Mexico and Lubao in Pampanga, Botolan in Zambales, Talavera in Nueva Ecija, and Tabuk in Kalinga.
Singapore sends 3,000 test kits
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. received on Tuesday a total of 3,000 test kits for COVID-19 and a thermal cycler from the Singaporean government. The donation is among the assistance pouring into the Philippines.
Last week, China donated a total of 100,000 COVID-19 test kits and essential medical supplies.
The US government also allocated over P139 million to assist the Department of Health (DOH) in its infectious disease threat prevention and response.
Manila gets help from Guangzhou
The municipal government of Guangzhou in China is donating thousands of essential medical supplies to Manila, its sister city and where the country’s referral center for COVID-19 is located, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Tuesday.
Locsin said a total of 200,000 N95 masks, 100,000 surgical masks, and 2,000 thermal scanners/infrared thermometers will be included in the donation.
In a tweet, he asked Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso to distribute the supplies “fast before it ends up in government warehouse.”
READ: Pandemic toll soars, nations reel
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