Half of COVID fatalities never admitted to hospitals, DOH data says

About half of COVID-19 fatalities were never admitted to hospitals based on the Department of Health (DOH) data, Sen. Joel Villanueva bared.


Villanueva, during the Senate Committe of the Whole hearing on  alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) Tuesday, asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III if the country's hospital capacity was still adequate after he learned that 48 percent of the novel coronavirus disease fatalities had not been brought to health facilities.

He cited DOH data as of Aug. 17 that of the 2,681 deaths attributed to COVID-19, 1,286 died without being admitted to hospitals or other medical facilities.

Villanueva  noted that 73 percent or seven out of 10 active COVID-19 cases categorized as "critical" were  not getting any treatment in medical facilities.

The DOH tally likewise listed that 509 of the 694 active critical cases and 113 of the 489 active severe cases were not being admitted to hospitals or medical facilities. 

"What explains the fact that among active cases, there are more patients with severe and critical conditions who are not admitted than admitted? Tatlo lang 'yung possibility. Una: Maaaring walang ospital. Pangalawa: Full 'yung ospital. Pangatlo, natatakot magbayad at ‘di nila alam na ang PhilHealth ay makakatulong sa kanila,” Villanueva asked Duque, co-chair of the inter-agency task force managing the government’s COVID-19 response.

Duque said that the government continues to expand the country’s healthcare system capacity and the construction of intermediate isolation and quarantine facilities for patients categorized as mild and asymptomatic to decongest hospitals.

He thanked Villanueva for bringing to his attention the information coming from his own department.

“Thank you for bringing this to my attention, your honor. Medyo nakakabigat ng loob ito na hindi sila na-admit despite being severe and critical (This quite pains me that they were not admitted despite being severe and critical). Puwede siguro makapagbigay kami ng contact number namin para ito po ay ma-follow up (Maybe we could give you our contact number so we could follow-up with you). Iba-ibang lugar po ito, ano (These came from various areas, right)?" the DOH Secretary asked.

"We’ll have this validated because this is not good to see na hindi na-ospital 'yung dapat ma-ospital (that those who should be hospitalized are not hospitalized)...Titignan natin baka 'yung mga ospital na napuntahan naman ay na-overwhelm na or overcapacity na (Maybe the hospitals they went to were overwhelmed or have exceeded their capacity)," he told the senators.