DOH reminds hospitals: Refer mild COVID-19 cases to treatment centers

Sofia Tomacruz
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says hospitals should help facilitate transfers of mild coronavirus cases to treatment centers, not just refuse to admit them

MANAGING PATIENTS. Health workers prepare test kits before testing suspected COVID-19 patients at Sta Ana Hospital in Manila on April 17, 2020. File photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) reminded hospitals on Wednesday, July 8, that coronavirus patients with mild infections should be referred to temporary treatment centers to avoid congesting hospitals.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also reiterated that hospitals should not just refuse to admit patients and should instead facilitate their transfer to temporary treatment centers for monitoring.

“The secretary (Francisco Duque III) especially instructed, and it’s even part of our protocol, that for mild and asymptomatic cases, they should be in temporary treatment and monitoring facilities with adequate monitoring so that we don’t congest hospitals,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino during a press briefing.

She added, “They cannot just rightfully or directly say you’re not allowed to be here. They need to facilitate and refer [to treatment centers]. Temporary treatment and monitoring facilities don’t accept walk-ins.”

As an example, Vergeire cited the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital which coordinates with the Philippine International Convention Center for the referral of mild coronavirus cases.

Exceptions to the protocol include patients with preexisting conditions which may make them more vulnerable and in need of close monitoring. 

Why this matters: The DOH earlier ordered both public and private hospitals to comply with rules that mandate 30% of their hospital facilities be dedicated to treating coronavirus patients. 

The directive follows the increase in coronavirus cases in Metro Manila, which has been the epicenter of the outbreak since March. There were at least 11 hospitals in the capital region that signaled COVID-19 dedicated beds in their intensive care units were already at full capacity. 

Vergeire said the DOH acknowledges that not all hospitals have the means to dedicate 30% of facilities for treating coronavirus patients. But she added that as much as possible, all need to meet this and be prepared to dedicate an additional 20% of facilities in case of a surge.

“Understandable naman pero sabi ni Secretary [Duque], gagawan nila ng paraan (It’s understandable, but Secretary Duque said they will find a way),” she said, adding that hospitals have also asked for additional resources to meet the requirement.

The DOH earlier said it was concerned over the spike in coronavirus cases, which had reached 47,873 as of Tuesday, July 7.

While more cases have been detected due to increased testing capacity, health officials said the rise in cases is also attributed to sustained community transmission, increased contact among the population, and failure to continuously follow minimum health protocols like handwashing and wearing of masks. –

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at