About five COVID-19 patients have died each day at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for the last three weeks, its spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario said Wednesday.
At an online briefing, Del Rosario also said that 220 out of 250 COVID-19 beds are occupied on a daily basis, which is far worse than the situation last year.
“Our ICU units are full. ER beds are also always full. Severe and critical care cases are being accommodated in the ER,” he said in Filipino.
Echoing the difficulties faced by other Metro Manila hospitals, Del Rosario said many COVID-19 patients have to wait just to be accommodated in the ICU.
Del Rosario also said extending the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal, or NCR Plus, beyond April 30 could help improve the situation.
MECQ prevents non-essential trips and partly shuts down non-essential businesses and services.
“There has been an improvement but it is yet to be significant. If no dent is being made, at least based on our census in PGH where we have 200 [COVID-19] patients per day, the extension of MECQ will probably help in decreasing COVID-19 transmission and lessening [the number of] people getting hospitalized,” he said.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the utilization rate of ICU beds in Metro Manila remains in the high-risk category amid a fresh surge in COVID-19 infections.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said six cities that he did not identify had already reached 100 percent ICU utilization.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the ICU bed capacity in Metro Manila was at a high 84 percent due to a fresh surge in infections.
Other areas with high ICU occupancy were the Cordillera Administrative Region (73 percent), Calabarzon (83 percent). Cagayan Valley (88 percent) and Central Luzon (87 percent).
Under DOH guidelines, an area is classified as moderate risk if its ICU utilization rate falls between 60 percent and 69 percent, high risk at 70 percent to 84 percent%, and critical risk at 85 percent or more.
Meanwhile, physicians are seeking the help of ship owners to allow some of their vessels to be converted into temporary facilities for COVID-19 patients.
Volunteer doctors or Doctors on Boat belonging to the Clean Air Philippines Movement Inc. (CAPMI), Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and Private Hospitals Associations of the Philippines Inc. said the shipping industry could extend their help amid the COVID-19 pandemic and provide converted hospital ships to immediately decongest the hospital facilities in the National Capital Region.
In an open appeal to the “compassionate hearts of the barons of the Philippine shipping industry,” PMA president Dr. Benito Atienza, along with CAPMI president Dr. Leo Olarte, said hospitals in Metro Manila have already reached the “red line” threshold.
“We must act now to stop needless deaths in the NCR due to the congested hospital problem confronting our nation’s centers,” the group’s statement read.
The group said makeshift hospital ships could dock at various ports at the NCR Plus to accommodate mild COVID-19 patients.