MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) reminded hospitals of protocol which would send to quarantine persons showing mild or no symptoms of COVID-19 to keep beds available to those severely ill.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters on Wednesday (July 8) that the department had reiterated the protocol to chiefs of hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR), which is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Vergeire said the protocol was meant to keep beds available to those who really needed hospitalization.
She added quickly, though, that the protocol doesn’t give hospitals authority to reject outright patients who are not critically ill.
Hospitals, she said, are not allowed to just tell patients they could not be admitted.
Patients, she said, “must be attended to and referred” to quarantine facilities “since the temporary treatment and monitoring facilities do not accept walk-ins.”
According to Vergeire, the hospital administrators were told by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to look into and “adopt” the practice of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), which has partnered with the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), in handling of mild COVID-19 cases.
In PGH’s arrangement with PICC, patients with mild or no symptoms, or those about to be discharged, are brought to the PICC, which had been converted into a 294-bed quarantine facility.
PGH had deployed some of its doctors and health workers to PICC to ensure patients are cared for.
Vergeire said the only time that patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms are to be hospitalized is when they have preexisting conditions that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus.
DOH data as of July 4 show that in Metro Manila, 69.2 percent of a total 3,218 hospital beds are currently occupied. There is, however, no available data on how many of these beds are currently occupied by patients with mild symptoms.
As of Tuesday, there are 214 patients who are severely ill while 31 are in critical condition. On July 1, there were only 143 severely ill patients and 27 critically ill patients nationwide.
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