As the country continues to address a surge of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the government’s pandemic task force has ordered for the urgent increase of COVID-19 dedicated beds and manpower and to decongest hospitals of mild and asymptomatic cases.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement amid the rising healthcare utilization rates and increasing COVID-19 case data in the country.
In his press briefing on Friday, January 21, Nograles said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases made the order to regional IATFs, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Health (DOH).
Based on IATF Resolution No. 158, the regional task forces, DILG, and the DOH were ordered to assess and closely monitor cases and hospital metrics to ensure a prompt response.
They were tasked to address the low percentage of COVID-19-dedicated beds through the augmentation of human resources for health, and through the temporary increase of hospital authorized bed capacities.
The IATF likewise ordered for the immediate decongestion of hospital facilities of mild and asymptomatic cases through step-down facilities.
The regional task forces, DILG, and the DOH were ordered to take the lead in establishing functional local government unit (LGU) emergency operations centers and triage areas. This is to ensure that cases are assessed, appropriately referred, and monitored.
They were likely tasked to strengthen LGU and community access and preference for home care services among mild and asymptomatic cases.
Early this month, the IATF approved the policy shift for the quarantine isolation of COVID-19 patients, allowing those who are asymptomatic or show mild or moderate symptoms to undergo home isolation.
It likewise allowed the home quarantine for close contacts of the suspect, probable, or confirmed COVID-19 cases but subject to more specific protocols:
- They have their own room and toilet
- They will be supervised by the LGU concerned
- They show no symptoms
- They are not vulnerable (seniors or with comorbidities)
- They are not mixed with positive and symptomatic individuals
- They observe minimum public health standards (mask, distance, disinfection, ventilation)
However, it is up to LGUs if they will allow families affected by COVID-19 to undergo home quarantine or move them to facilities.