News Release

Palace ensures sufficient health care capacity despite COVID-19 surge

With the number of COVID-19 cases rising, the Palace assures that there is still sufficient healthcare capacity to manage patients who will get the severe form of the disease.

“Sa ngayon po talaga tinitingnan natin yung hindi lang tumataas na kaso, tinitingnan din po natin yung ating healthcare utilization,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr in a press briefing on March 15, 2021.

The Palace official said that despite the increasing number of cases in the past days, the national healthcare capacity data show that as of March 14, 2021, there are still 55 percent available ICU beds, 62 percent available isolation beds, 71 percent available ward beds, and 74 percent available ventilators.

Secretary Roque said that compared to the same period last year, we know much about COVID-19 already and is now more prepared to deal with the pandemic.

“Unang-una mas alam na natin kung paano bigyan ng medical attention ang mga nagkakasakit ng seryoso. Alam na natin na ang nasal flow cannula ay nakakasalba ng buhay, at alam na natin kung ano yung mga gamot na nakakasalba ng buhay,” said Secretary Roque.

In terms of testing capacity, Sec. Roque said that the Philippines now has 229 laboratories compared to just one laboratory that can do RT-PCR testing and analysis back in March 2020.

“Mula sa higit na isanlibo, or 1,282 actual tests kada araw noong Marso 2020, ngayon ay pumapalo na po tayo sa halos apatnapung libong tests, or 39,117 average daily testing output ngayong March 2021,” Sec Roque said. There are now 9.2 million total number of individuals tested, which is equivalent to 8.4 percent of the nation’s population, said Roque.

With regard to isolation facilities, there are now about 10,000 isolation facilities nationwide, as of March 2021, and almost 100,000 beds in Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities or TTMFs as of March 2021,compared to only 30,000 beds in April 2020, reported Roque.

The Palace spokesperson also addressed the call of some sectors for the government to impose a total lockdown to address the surge in cases. “Napakahirap po talagang magsarado ng ekonomiya muli. Pero ang binabantayan po talaga natin yung datos hindi lang sa pagdami ng mga kaso kung hindi yung healthcare utilization rate natin dahil kinakailangan may sapat tayong mga kama para gamutin yung mga malalang magkakasakit,” he said.

Roque stressed that the national government continues to delicately balance the need to safeguard the health and safety of the people and the need to reopen the economy. “We all want to be healthy because unless we are healthy we cannot work but the reality po talaga is there are now more people hungry because of total lockdowns than compared to those na nagkakasakit ng severe,” Roque said.

Meanwhile, in the same press briefing, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Kelly Bird confirmed that the Philippines is the first member country of the ADB to access the bank’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, which granted the country a loan of $400-M for financing the procurement of vaccines. Bird said that the loan is co-financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that will be adding an extra $300-M, for a total loan of $700-M.

On another matter, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in the same press briefing that the DOJ has already conducted preliminary assessment on the deaths of alleged activists in the CALABARZON region. Sec. Guevarra said that based on preliminary investigations gathered, it was assessed that the case is for investigation by the AO35 committee on extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty, and security. ### OPS-PCOO