MANILA, Philippines — Patients can avail of medical services offered by other local government units if the health capacity of their areas have been filled up because of rising coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections, Malacañang said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque noted that the health department has adopted a one hospital system, which aims to refer patients to establishments that still have enough critical care capacity.
"They can (go to hospitals of other local governments). It's part of the duty of (Health) Usec. (Leopoldo) Vega, who oversees the one hospital incident command," Roque said at a press briefing.
"He (Vega) is (determining) which hospitals have vacant beds. He serves as a referee and he determines where people with medical needs can go," he added.
The Philippines has logged more than 67,000 COVID-19 cases with 1,831 deaths, the second highest in Southeast Asia.
Because of the rising number of infected persons, the COVID-19 wards of some hospitals have reached their full capacity.
Last week, Vega reported that the critical care capacity of hospitals, especially their ICU beds, is "now in the danger zone" because of the increasing number of COVID-19 patients. He said more than 70% or 573 out of 739 ICU beds have been occupied as of July 8.
Malacañang has insisted that the situation remains "manageable" and that the country still has enough hospital beds for patients.
Health officials have undertaken measures to ensure that the critical care capacity of hospitals will not be overwhelmed including prescribing COVID-19 bed allocation guidelines, increasing bed allocations for infected persons, and providing additional health care personnel for all private hospitals.
Roque said local governments in Metro Manila, the region with the most number of infections, have been required to submit daily trends of active cases, number of infected population, number of cases in community isolation facilities, the number and utilization rate of community isolation beds, and health system capacity targets and utilization.
Metro Manila will remain under the lenient general community quarantine until the end of the month but officials have warned that it may be placed under a more stringent lockdown if the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
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