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PGH, Lung Center brace for possible surge of COVID-19 cases after holidays

The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) said they are bracing for a possible surge of coronavirus cases after the holiday season.

In an interview with DZMM on Monday, December 14, spokesperson Jonas del Rosario said that the PGH is already anticipating the spike in cases since people are visiting their families this Christmas.

"Handa po kami. Hindi po namin binawasan ang mga kama para sa COVID-19 patients (We are ready. We did not reduce the number of beds for COVID-19 patients)," Del Rosario said, adding that he hopes that the surge won't be too high as they have also opened PGH to non-coronavirus patients.

"Sana nga po hindi magkaroon ng surge na masyadong mataas kasi binubuksan na rin namin ang aming ospital para sa mga non-COVID patients na dumarami na rin talaga," he said.

(We hope that the surge won't be too high because we have also opened our hospital for non-COVID patients, which are also increasing in number.)

Del Rosario said that PGH has 200 beds dedicated for COVID-19 patients, with only 97 beds occupied now.

Meanwhile, spokesperson Antonio Ramos said that LCP will not have a skeleton workforce this holiday season – unlike the previous years – to prepare for the spike in COVID-19 cases.

"Kung kailangan ng dagdag, siguro hihingi pa kami sa (If we need reinforcements, maybe we will request from the) Department of Health (DOH) but right now we also have DOH volunteers with us," he said.

Ramos also appealed to the public to avoid gatherings this holiday season.

"Kasama ito sa mga pakiusap sa ating mga kababayan – puwede naman mag-exchange gifts pero huwag na lang kayo kumain nang sabay-sabay," he said. (This is included in our appeal to the public – you can do exchange gifts, but maybe you can avoid eating together.)

LCP has 70 beds dedicated for coronavirus patients, with 26 beds occupied now.

Increase bed capacity

On December 9, the DOH warned private hospitals to start increasing beds for COVID-19 patients to prepare for a possible surge in coronavirus cases after the holidays.

In a statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the country’s health system "should also ensure its continued preparation for a possible post-holiday surge."

Last July, the DOH revised its order mandating public hospitals to set aside at least 30% of their facilities for COVID-19 patients. In private hospitals, the agency mandated at least 20% of their beds to be set aside. 

Duque said that as of December 7, the DOH recorded a “nationwide average of 30% hospital bed allocation in public hospitals and 13% for private.” It was only in the Caraga Region where private hospitals met the minimum number of beds to be allocated in private hospitals, he added. 

The OCTA research group studying the coronavirus pandemic in the country likewise noted a spike in cases in the provinces as Christmas approaches. 

In its latest report published on Wednesday, December 9, the group said these included Benguet, Isabela, Bataan, Leyte, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, and Cagayan, where increases in new cases were observed from December 1 to 7.

As of Sunday, the Philippines has recorded 449,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 8,733 deaths, 418,687 recoveries, and 21,980 active cases. –

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.