By Analou De Vera
The number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 has climbed past the country’s total death toll for the first time, the Department of Health reported on Wednesday.
The DOH said 58 new patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 353.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths reached 349 as 14 new fatalities were recorded.
The country now has 5,453 confirmed cases as 230 new patients were recorded by the Health department.
Assessment of Chinese health experts
In a related development, Chinese medical experts that are currently in the Philippines said that the country is facing “a significant risk of not being able to completely cut off the source of the infection.”
The assessment made by the 12-member team of Chinese health experts was based on a report by CCTV Asia Pacific.
The health experts are suggesting that the Philippines should establish a “Fangcang hospital” immediately. These are makeshift hospitals that serve as an isolation facility for patients with COVID-19.
“Because of limited beds and testing capacity in the Philippines, many of the COVID-19 patients are still quarantined at home,” Weng Shangeng, head of the Chinese medical expert team, told CCTV Asia Pacific.
Weng said such a measure will be fundamental to “increase cure rates and reduce infection rates.”
“In this way, mild cases can be admitted to the hospital for observation so as to prevent the mild cases from becoming severe cases,” Weng said.
In a paper published April 2 in the medical journal Lancet, Fangcang hospitals are described as:
“The Fangcang shelter hospitals in China were large-scale, temporary hospitals, rapidly built by converting existing public venues, such as stadiums and exhibition centres, into health-care facilities. They served to isolate patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 from their families and communities, while providing medical care, disease monitoring, food, shelter, and social activities.”
The Philippine government has already converted some public venues, including the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, into COVID-19 facilities called ‘We Heal as One Centers,’ while others are under construction by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Frontliners’ face masks
The Chinese experts also took note of the face masks being used by the Filipino healthcare workers.
“Different kinds of masks. Even some masks looked wrinkled from the outside. It’s obviously used more than once. What does that say? It shows that the epidemic supplies are very scarce. By the conversation with the medics, they told us, their protective clothing is reused for several times,” Weng said.
“As normally scheduled, protective clothing should be disposable –use it and throw it away–but they are short of supplies. They reuse the supplies. So they give us the impression that the medics are very dedicated and have the spirit of devotion. They are the heroes in fighting the epidemic and are worthy of applauding,” he added.
In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there are now 16 laboratories in the Philippines that are certified to conduct RT-PCR testing for COVID-19.
“Bukod sa 16 laboratoryo na nag-o-operate ngayon, meron tayong 47 na laboratories na sumasailalim na sa certification process,” Vergeire said.
“Inaasahan po na sa mga susunod na araw ay maidadagdag ito sa bilang ng mga fully-operational laboratories para maabot natin ang ating goal na 8,000 tests per day sa katapusan ng buwan na ito,” she added.
The 16 laboratories that are certified to process COVID-19 tests are: Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, UP-National Institutes of Health, Lung Center of the Philippines, and Western Visayas Medical Center;
Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory, St Lukes Medical Center-Quezon City, The Medical City-Ortigas, Victoriano Luna Hospital, Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, St. Luke’s Medical Center–Bonifacio Global City, Makati Medical Center, and the Philippine Red Cross.