PH quarantine classification may rise if critical care use reaches danger levels — Roque

Published March 18, 2021, 5:30 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government might raise the country’s community quarantine level if the critical healthcare capacity reaches the danger level amid surging cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a Palace official said Thursday.


Presidential spokesman Harry Roque however assured the nation the country’s health care capacity remained sufficient so far to provide care and treatment to those who may suffer serous coronavirus illness.

The country’s cases of coronavirus have soared to more than 640,000 after authorities recently detected new and more infectious variants of the coronavirus affecting Filipinos.  The government earlier remained reluctant to revert the country back to a strict lockdown, and instead encouraged local authorities to enforce granular and targeted lockdowns to curb the coronavirus transmission.  

“Sa ating standards po ‘no, sa ating criteria, isa po sa mga criterion para mapataas ang quarantine classification eh iyong healthcare utilization rate (Based on our standards, one of the criteria to raise the quarantine classification is the healthcare utilization rate),’ Roque said during a virtual press conference Thursday, March 18.

“Kapag umabot na po tayo sa danger level, iyong red na tinatawag (When we reach the danger level, the red mark), that may be a ground to increase the quarantine classification,” he added.

As of March 17, Roque said 53 percent of the country’s 1,900 intensive care unit beds remained available. Of the 13,500 isolation beds, he said 60 percent of the beds could still be used. Around 67 percent of the 6,000 ward beds are also still unoccupied.

Health authorities earlier claimed that when the country’s hospital bed occupancy rate reaches above 70 percent, this would be considered high risk or critical level. Apart from the critical care utilization rate, the government makes decisions on the country’s quarantine level based on the two-week growth rate and the daily attack rate of coronavirus cases.

To augment Metro Manila’s health care capacity, Roque said treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega mentioned plans to tap the health facilities in nearby regions to accommodate patients. 

“With the One Hospital Command Center, mai-estimate naman po ng team ni Dr. Vega kung talagang makukulangan tayo ng mga hospital beds or hindi, utilizing already the adjoining provinces (The team of Dr. Vega can estimate if there is any shortage of hospital beds utilizing already the adjoining provinces),” he said.

For the month of March, the country is largely under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the least restrictive of the four lockdown levels. Metro Manila and nine other places remained under stricter general community quarantine.

The government task force handling the pandemic response is expected to hold a meeting and recommend the next quarantine level for the month of April to President Duterte. The President, who previously refused to relax the country’s quarantine levels until he sees massive vaccination, is expected to make the decision on the matter.