The Department of Health (DOH) has observed an increase in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in some regions across the country, with healthcare utilization rate in these areas now almost at “high risk” level.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the spike in cases has contributed to the rise in the nationwide tally of daily new infections reported in the recent days.
“We have identified now six regions wherein there is this increase in the number of cases and their healthcare utilization is nearing the high risk level,” Vergeire said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Monday, May 31.
The DOH official earlier disclosed that the utilization rate of the intensive care unit (ICU) beds in six regions of the country are now at the “high-risk” level due to the rising number of cases.
These are Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Cagayan Valley, Zamboanga Peninsula, Caraga, Calabarzon and Central Luzon, she said.
“But we have seen other regions as well where there is this increase in cases. We have Region 4-B, Region 6, Region 1. We also have Regions 10, 11, and Caraga,” Vergeire said.
“Within these specific regions, there are specific provinces that are having higher cases but not really the whole of that region,” she noted.
Since May 28, the Health department recorded more than 7,000 new infections nationwide, with a total of 7,058 new cases reported on May 30.
The DOH earlier explained that the increase in the number of new cases nationwide was due to the rise in the number of infections in some areas outside Metro Manila.
With the growing number of cases in some provinces, the DOH said it will focus its efforts in expanding the healthcare capacity in the areas experiencing a spike in cases.
“Specifically, in Mindanao, there are minimal ICU beds allocated for COVID-19 because they have few facilities compared to the National Capital Region,” she said.
“This is one of the things that we have to focus on that we will be able to enable them to expand their capacity especially for ICU beds,” she added.
Vergeire said the DOH has ordered health authorities in the Visayas and Mindanao “to map out the needs of all of these facilities so that we can expand the ICU beds in these areas.”
She noted that hospitals are mandated to increase capacity by 30 percent for private hospitals and 50 percent for public hospitals when there is a surge in cases.
“Now that there is this surge, they are mandated to expand,” she said. “But we understand that some of the hospitals would have difficulties or challenges because these are small hospitals or sometimes their resources are not enough.”
“We are now assisting them so that we can better expand the capacity,” she added.