MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday, June 23, that the critical care capacity of Central Visayas is already in the “warning zone.”
“We need to monitor closely the critical care capacity in Region 7. The whole region is classified as in warning zone with Cebu City having higher utilization rates,” the DOH said in a statement to media.
“Currently, Cebu has been increasing its supply of dedicated beds for COVID-19 cases which can help ensure the health system is not overwhelmed,” it added.
The DOH made the statement when reporters asked for clarification on the figures that Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire released during a virtual press briefing earlier that day.
During that briefing, when Vergeire was asked whether the critical care utilization in Cebu was getting high in view of reports that hospitals in the province were getting overwhelmed, she cited figures that she attributed to the province. The DOH later clarified that the figures applied to the entire Central Visayas.
The DOH said in a statement clarifying Vergeire’s earlier announcement that “as of June 21, in Region VII, 58% of the 1,533 hospitals beds are occupied, 56% of the 110 ICU beds and 37% of mechanical ventilators are in use.”
It said that in Cebu province, 37.1% of hospital beds are occupied, 0% ICU beds occupied, and 12.5% of mechanical ventilators are in use; while in Cebu City, 85.3% hospital beds are occupied, 60.3% of ICU beds are occupied, and 36% mechanical ventilators are in use.
Cebu province is under general community quarantine, except for Cebu City, which is under the strictest enhanced community quarantine; and Talisay City, which is under modified ECQ.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed Cebu City on lockdown again on June 16, after a consistent rise in confirmed coronavirus cases.
For the past days, new COVID-19 cases in Central Visayas, where Cebu City is located, exceeded the number of coronavirus cases in Metro Manila.
Cebu City reported 930 new coronavirus cases in its first week back on lockdown.
Duterte designated Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu as the deputy implementer of the government’s coronavirus response in the Visayas. (READ: DENR chief Roy Cimatu to oversee Cebu City’s COVID-19 response)
University of the Philippines experts had warned that the spike in new coronavirus cases in Cebu province showed that it was the country’s “second major battleground.” They predicted that there would be 11,000 cases in the island province by June 30.
Their study also showed that Cebu City had a coronavirus reproduction number of 2, almost double than Metro Manila’s 0.96 for the first two weeks of June.
The reproduction number is a measurement of the virus’ spread that looks at the “transmission potential” of a disease or the number of people one coronavirus patient can infect.
A reproduction number higher than one means an infected person in a specific area can transmit the disease to more than one person.
As of Monday, the Philippines recorded 30,682 cases, with 1,177 deaths and 8,143 recoveries. Experts predicted that the country would have 40,000 cases by the end of June if the government was unable to contain the virus’ spread. – Rappler.com