MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said that the Philippines recorded 26,458 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, January 8 – the highest-ever number of cases tallied in the country in a single day since the pandemic began in March 2020.
The January 8 cases surpassed the 26,303 cases reported on September 11, 2021. The DOH also reported 1,656 additional recoveries and 265 deaths.
The active cases in the country were also at a record-high at 102,017, the highest since October 9, 2021, when the active cases were at 106,558.
The positivity rate was at 43.7% – also a record-high – out of 77,004 tests done on January 6.
According to the DOH, the January 8 data did not include six laboratories which did not submit the data to the COVID-19 Document Repository System. The DOH said that in the last 14 days, the six laboratories contributed a total of 3.6% for all the samples tested and 5.4% for positive cases.
Recognizing the surge in COVID-19 cases, Malacañang has issued Memorandum Circular No. 94 providing guidelines on reducing the on-site workforce in government offices below the minimum set under the Alert Level System.
“With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, there are reports that government offices are finding it difficult to comply with the minimum on-site workforce provided in the Alert Level System and MC. No. 93 due to the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases among their personnel, and the need to observe isolation and quarantine protocols,” MC 94 said.
PGH’s ‘crisis response’
The “crisis response” of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases is to keep having their health workers on duty as long as they are not experiencing symptoms of the disease, hospital spokesperson Jonas del Rosario said during the Laging Handa briefing aired on state-run PTV on Saturday.
With the hospital experiencing a six-fold increase in new admissions, Del Rosario said the PGH cannot afford to lose additional manpower.
“Policy namin, unless maging symptomatic ka, ‘pag ikaw ay na-expose, pero wala ka pa naman symptoms, tuloy lang ang trabaho. Hindi ka mag-ka-quarantine. ‘Yan ang crisis response ng PGH, para hindi tayo mawalan o mapilayan ng tao,” said Del Rosario.
(Our policy is, unless you become symptomatic, if you are exposed but do not have symptoms yet, you must continue to work. You will not quarantine. This is PGH’s crisis response, so that we do not lose people or are crippled by the lack of manpower.)
To aid their frontliners, Del Rosario said that personal protective equipment have been enhanced and symptoms of staff are monitored every day. “Hindi rin naman namin isasabak ‘yung mga doktor, nurses namin kung sila ay may nararamdaman (We will not make our doctors and nurses go on duty if they’re feeling sick),” he said.
The PGH is housing around 255 COVID-19 patients as of Saturday. Of this number, half are fully vaccinated, while the other half are unvaccinated.
However, it is mostly the unvaccinated patients who are coming to the hospital with COVID-19 as their primary concern, Del Rosario said.
“There are many fully vaccinated patients who have different illnesses that bring them to PGH….It turns out they are also positive for COVID-19, but it is not the coronavirus that made their conditions worse but their other illnesses,” Del Rosario said in Filipino. “Like COVID-19 is an incidental finding.”
The spokesperson contrasted this to the unvaccinated patients, who are experiencing illness caused by the virus. He reported that most of the new admissions are mild cases of COVID-19, without need for ventilators or intubation.
On January 5, the PGH saw six times more admissions in 10 days as COVID-19 cases spiked in the country. As of Saturday, Del Rosario said the hospital’s intensive care unit for COVID-19 is full, but that the hospital capacity is “expandable” on a “per need basis.”
After the country’s capital was put under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15, more areas were also reverted to the stricter level to curb the rising COVID-19 infections amid the entry of the Omicron variant in the country.
On January 6, the Philippine government also put 14 areas, including Baguio City and Iloilo City, under Alert Level 3. – With reports from Michelle Abad/Rappler.com