Emergency rooms in some areas in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces have remained full as the number of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases have continued to be high, an officer of Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) said Sunday, April 18.
In an interview over DZMM, Dr. Maricar Limpin, vice president of PCP, said some emergency rooms were turned into COVID-19 wards and intensive care units as wards dedicated for COVID-19 patients remained full.
“Nung in-announce yung MECQ [modified enhanced community quarantine], isa sa mga worry namin na maaaring tumaas ulit ang dami ng mga nagkakaroon ng COVID-19 kasi medyo nabawasan yung restrictions. Hindi pa nga kami nakakahinga nang konti, maaaring tataas na naman (When the MECQ was announced, one of our worries was that the number of people getting infected could increase again because the restrictions were relaxed. We haven’t even been able to breathe yet),” Limpin said.
“Yung mga tao na nakikita namin noon ECQ, same pa rin ng mga taong nakikita namin ngayon. Marami kaming nakikitang talagang severe na o critical, it’s frustrating samin. By the time na makita namin, malalang-malala na (The people we saw during the ECQ, are still the same people we see now. A lot of patients coming to us are already in severe or critical condition. By the time we see them they’re already in the worst condition already),” she added.
Some emergency departments in COVID-19-hit areas are currently at 200-percent capacity.
Limpin noted that healthcare workers may only feel the impact of the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in two to three weeks.
However, infections among healthcare workers are currently declining, according to Limpin.
“Medyo mababa na sa 20 percent yung nakikita nating infection rate sa ating mga healthcare worker (The infection rate we see among our healthcare workers is a little lower than 20 percent),” she added.
Standardize contact tracing
Limpin also batted for a standard and digitalized contact tracing system.
“Pinakaimportante talaga rito yung contact tracing. Kasi kapag merong contact tracing magte-test tayo, isolate, and treat. Yang tatlong yan importanteng magawa natin nang tama, nag-uumpisa lahat sa contact tracing. Hindi pa natin nakikitang maganda yung programang ito (Contact tracing is really the most important thing here. Because when there’s contact tracing, we can easily test, isolate, and treat. Those three are important for us to do correctly, but it all starts with contact tracing. So far we haven’t seen an effective program yet),” she said.
“Ang aming recommendation ay ECQ instead of MECQ, pero hindi nga ho tayo napakinggan. Pero we respect that, kasi eto namang community quarantine is a temporary measure. Ang pinakatalagang gusto naming mabigyan ng focus ay contact tracing na maging permanente, para long-term ang solusyon (Our recommendation is ECQ instead of MECQ, but they didn’t listen. But we respect that, because community quarantines are temporary measures. The most important thing we want to focus on is contact tracing to be permanent, it’s our long-term solution),” the physician continued.
Limpin likewise backed the call for mass testing.
“Dapat ma-test ang mga tao, lahat ng nagkaroon ng exposure. Para masiguro natin na hindi na yan kakalat pa and after the testing, i-treat. Kailangan magkaroon din tayo ng magandang pamamaraan kung saan alam ng mga tao kung saan [facility] sila pupunta (People should be tested, everyone who had exposure. To make sure that the virus doesn’t spread further and after testing, treat. We also need to improve our referral facility so people would know where they would go.”