Gov’t mulls tapping regional hospitals for COVID-19 patients as bed capacity warning hounds Metro Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29)— The government is looking at tapping hospitals in nearby regions that can accommodate COVID-19 patients from Metro Manila should bed capacity in the capital region reach critical levels.

“If the hospital beds and the ICU (intensive care unit) beds in Manila are in critical level, we will tap even the bed capacity of neighboring region 3 and region 4A to refer patients to these vacant ICU or hospital beds,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Wednesday.

Currently, Metro Manila's COVID-19 bed occupancy rate has hit the "danger zone level," as the Health Department on Tuesday reported 82.2 percent of beds have already been occupied by patients.

A number of major hospitals in the capital region also reported they have already reached full capacity for COVID-19 patients. Under government guidelines, facilities are mandated to allocate 30 percent of beds for coronavirus-hit persons.

As the government looks into options to solve the problem, Roque called on private hospitals to also comply with DOH’s order.

“The solution is to at least increase COVID bed capacity to up to 50 percent in all government hospitals, and for private hospitals to at least comply with the 30 percent allotment,” the spokesperson added.

However, a private hospitals group earlier said their members may not be able to attain the goal due to limited manpower and resources, and cited the need to balance out assets for both COVID and non-COVID patients.

Nationwide, the COVID-19 bed occupancy rate also breached the “warning zone”— with 52.3 percent or 8,577 of the 16,388 beds dedicated for COVID-19 patients already in use as of July 26.

READ: DOH: Country’s healthcare system close to being overwhelmed amid rising COVID-19 cases

To date, coronavirus infections in the country have surpassed 83,000, with over 55,000 tagged as active cases.