‘Rise in critical COVID cases has not reached significant level’

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    THE Department of Health (DOH) yesterday allayed fears the rise in critical coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases is spinning out of control, attributing the rising numbers to a “proportional” increase in the number of new cases.

    “As the cases increase, of course, the number of classified patients that are mild, asymptomatic, severe, moderate, and critical also increase,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.

    “As a proportion to this absolute number of cases, they naturally increase, too,” she added.

    She pointed out the increase in severe and critical cases has not reached significant level, saying: “In terms of percentage, the increase in severe and critical cases is not really significant because it is less than 1 percent.”

    She nevertheless assured that the DOH is closely monitoring the severe and critical cases “so they can be managed appropriately.”

    Vergeire also pointed to mistagging by local disease reporting units as another factor in the rising number of critical cases.

    “There are cases that were tagged by disease reporting units as severe and critical, but have actually already died. So we already reclassified them as deaths,” she said.

    Last week, the DOH, through Health Undersecretary Leopolodo Vega, said it will revisit its data, especially those coming from regional offices, to determine the reason behind the rise in critical cases and ensure the country’s health system is capable of dealing with any kind of upsurge.

    Critical infections spiked to 3.3 percent over the weekend and remained at the 3 percent level in succeeding days, from just 2.5 percent last September 19.

    Meanwhile, Interior Sectary Eduardo Año urged local governments in Metro Manila to refer mild and asymptomatic COVID patients to the national Oplan Kalinga hotels and quarantine facilities if their facilities are already full.

    Año noted there are 4,000 beds now available for people infected with the virus due to an increase in the number of patients who have recovered from the virus.

    The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recently passed a resolution requiring all confirmed mild and asymptomatic COVID patients to be isolated in government-approved facilities.

    Exempted from the rule are those who are vulnerable or have comorbidities as certified by the local health officer. Also exempted are the confirmed mild and asymptomatic COVID patients in areas where government-recognized quarantine facilities are in full capacity.

    “We urge all Metro Manila LGUs to endorse patients which they can no longer accommodate in their local isolation facilities to endorse them to the Mega TTMFs (temporary treatment and monitoring facilities) and Oplan Kalinga hotels which now have some 4,000 beds available because many have already been discharged,” said Año.

    Año reiterated that COVID patients have to be removed from their houses and brought to quarantine facilities as much as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

    “We have Mega Quarantine facilities and 31 COVID hotels where they can be isolated. It’s important that we take them out of their house because they will only infect their family,” Año said.

    DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the LGUs may coordinate directly with the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) that has been established to coordinate health facility referrals in Metro Manila.

    Through the OHCC, Malaya said LGUs and individuals can easily locate hospitals or isolation facilities near them.

    The OHCC may be reached through its hotlines: 0927-728-0750, 0927-728-0753, 0927-728-0755, and 0927-728-0798. – With Victor Reyes