THE Department of Health (DOH) has monitored clustering of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in over 600 areas in the country.
Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in a virtual briefing, said 79 additional areas of clustering reported from July 15 to 17 brings the total to 638 areas, majority of which are in communities.
Of the said areas, Vergeire said there were 513 community clustering broken down as follows: National Capital Region with 170, followed by Central Visayas with 122, CALABARZON with 55, Eastern Visayas with 36, and Central Luzon with 25.
Also having clustering of cases are Davao region (20), Western Visayas (20), Bicol region (13), Northern Mindanao (12), Zamboanga Peninsula (11), Caraga (8), Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (7), Cagayan Valley (5), SOCCSKSARGEN (4), MIMAROPA (3), and Cordillera Administrative Region (2).
Vergeire said there is also clustering of cases in a total of 49 hospitals and health facilities and in 24 jails or prison facilities.
Vergeire said the DOH is also “closely monitoring top regions, provinces, and cities by new cases.”
DOH data shows that the regions with the highest number of new COVID-19 cases for the week are the National Capital Region (7,413), CALABARZON (1,158), and Central Visayas (1,060).
Also having surges in cases this week are Western Visayas (309), Central Luzon (251), and Northern Mindanao (234).
As for top cities, the DOH said high number of new cases were recorded in Manila (2,086), Quezon City (1,017), Mandaluyong City (620), Cebu City (373), Navotas City (353), and Makati City (346).
CEBU CITY PLATEAUING?
But while it remains as among the areas with the highest number of new cases, Vergeire said COVID-19 numbers in Cebu City has already improved significantly as reported by the DOH Central Visayas office.
“Based on the report of our regional office, the numbers have gone down when compared to last week’s numbers in Cebu City,” she said.
The health official, however, stopped short of saying the situation in Cebu City has already plateaued.
“It has gone down already. But I cannot say if it is already plateauing because we need to establish the trend first. What we are seeing is just based on one week compared to the previous week,” she said, adding: “We will not yet remove it from strict monitoring.”
NKTI SEEKS EXEMPTION
Citing its dwindling resources and the presence of highly vulnerable patients, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) yesterday publicly sought to be exempted from participating in the nationwide response to COVID-19.
In a three-page open letter, NKTI executive director Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete said it is about time for the Quezon City-based specialty hospital to be relieved from the burden of treating COVID-19 patients.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will probably remain for next 1 or 2 years. And we, the NKTI, your Specialty Transplant Center, cannot be a breeding ground of the virus for that same period,” said Liquete.
“Relieve NKTI of the burden of catering to COVID-19 patients for us to keep our mandate, vision, and mission,” she added.
The NKTI chief cited the presence of highly vulnerable population among their patients as one of the main reasons for making such a request.
“We, at the NKTI, have the most vulnerable patients. Just imagine numerous chronic renal patients with co-morbidities – commonly with hypertension, diabetes, and often also with heart diseases – inflicted with the corona virus pulmonary infection,” she said.
Continuing the rise in COVID-19 cases among NKTI patients, she also said, may ultimately result to less people being able to undergo transplant procedures.
“Our census for transplant has precipitously dropped, which means less and less of our patients can go back to the normal stream of life; less and less of the Filipinos shall become healthy in the years to come. This threat must be stopped,” said Liquete.
Aside from their patients, the hospital chief said the resources, both in facilities as well as in personnel, have also been severely depleted by the pandemic.
She noted how a total of 174 of their personnel have already been afflicted with the novel virus, mostly being nurses, nephrologists, internists, and medical technologists.
“Whether the virus has come about from caring for positive patients or from the community is now moot and academic. The reality now is that our manpower is dwindling,” said Liquete.
The official added that all their COVID-19 dedicated healthcare resources have been at full capacity for sometime already.
“The hospital ‘hotzone’ is already like a petri dish, teeming with COVID-19 patients… For many weeks now, our COVID-19 facility has had 100% occupancy and dialysis patients from other centers keep flooding our already congested emergency room,” said Liquete.
She asked higher health authorities to further capacitate COVID-19 referral centers, namely Jose Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, and the Philippine General Hospital, as well as other public hospitals for them to be able to accept more COVID-19 patients.
Liquete also appealed to all emergency COVID-19 or non-COVID-19 patients to find a way to transfer to their hospital of choice, instead of the NKTI since the medical facility is already full.
The Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Tondo, Manila has closed its emergency room due to its high number of COVID-19 case admissions.
OIC-Hospital director Teodoro Martin said the closure of the emergency room from July 20 to July 23 will “give way to terminal cleaning and disinfection.”
Martin said the hospital currently has 76 COVID-related cases, which 52 are confirmed positive patients.
“The COVID ward has reached 100 percent capacity while the isolation tents are beyond full capacity with pending COVID confirmed patient admissions,” he added.
Martin also said there are 53 COVID-confirmed health care workers on quarantine, including four doctors and 12 nurses. – With Ashzel Hachero