Metro Manila ICU capacity nears ‘maximum’ limit

Aika Rey
Metro Manila ICU capacity nears ‘maximum’ limit

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says more rooms are being set up to prepare for a possible surge in patients brought by wider testing

MANILA, Philippines – The intensive care unit (ICU) capacity of Metro Manila hospitals is nearing its limit, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday, April 24, in a Malacañang briefing.

Vergeire said that the overstretched capacity of hospitals to provide critical care was among the factors considered to keep Metro Manila under total lockdown.

“Base doon sa critical care utilization rate, makikita natin na ‘yung use of intensive care units dito sa NCR (National Capital Region), nando’n na siya sa near ng maximum. Ibig sabihin, gamit na gamit na talaga,” she said.

(Based on our critical care utilization rate, we will see that the use of ICUs here in NCR, it’s near the maximum. So it means that it’s really overwhelmed.)

Vergeire said “critical care utilization rate… ay nagrerepresenta ng kakayanan po at kapasidad ng ating health system para maka-cope po tayo dito po sa ating sitwasyon sa COVID. (Critical care utilization rate represents the capability and capacity of the health system to cope with the COVID-19 situation.)

Vergeire said that the capital region may be “overwhelmed” in terms of critical care capacity, bit the government was setting up more rooms to prepare for the possible surge in patients brought by wider testing.

Vergeire explained that this task merely involves “fixing hospital processes” so that public and private hospitals taking care of coronavirus patients will not be at full capacity.

“Hindi tayo magpapatayo ng mga bagong ospital. Ang gagawin natin i-aayos natin ang proseso. Maglalagay tayo ng dedicated rooms, dedicated wards para sa ating COVID-19 [patients] and also importante rin na magdedicate tayo for non-COVID-19,” Vergeire said.

(We will not build new hospitals. We will fix processes. We will place dedicated rooms, dedicated wards for our COVID-19 patients, and it’s also important to dedicate for non-COVID-19 patients.)

Vergeire said that aside from the bed capacity and ICU beds of hospitals based on estimated surge in the number of patients, the other components to measure critical care utilization rate are: the number of medical equipment like ventilators and pump machines; the volume of medicine in stock; and the availability of medical staff (doctors, nurses and others) to take care of patients. 

“The utilization of this critical care would be very, very important kasi makikita po natin dito kung tayo ay makakaagapay o hindi tayo makakaagapay kapag dumating po iyong sitwasyon na ito sa ating bansa. (because we can see here if our country can or cannot cope when we are facing the dire situation.)”

Later on Friday, Vergeire said during the Department of Health briefing that there are more than 43,000 isolation beds in quarantine facilities that have been established.

So far, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority have also converted public buildings into quarantine facilities to accommodate the possible influx of thousands of patients.

Philippine coronavirus cases breached 7,000 on Friday, as the DOH announced 211 new cases which brought the total to 7,192. The coronavirus death toll reached 477, while 762 patients have recovered from the disease. –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at