Alert Level 4 Lurks As Healthcare Utilization Rate Increases

Healthcare workers tend to patients | IMG Source: WHO

MANILA, Philippines – A “high” level of healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) will push the national government to implement Alert Level 4 status in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its neighboring areas, according to Malacañang this Monday.

The announcement, made by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Acting Presidential Spokesperson, came after the Department of Health (DOH) predicted this, due to the current surge of Covid-19 cases.

Three factors need to be looked at and need to be at “high” levels for an area to be declared at Alert Level 4, according to Secretary Nograles. These three are the country’s two-week growth rate, average daily attack rate (ADAR), and healthcare utilization rate – with the first two factors already at “high” levels, while the HCUR is still at a “moderate” level.

Nograles said, “As of the moment, ang Metro Manila nasa moderate pa tayo sa total bed utilization natin so it’s not enough for us to declare Alert Level 4.”

The healthcare utilization rate refers to the number of intensive care units, isolation beds, and ventilators currently in use in an area’s medical facilities. However, Nograles said that the availability of healthcare workers should be taken into account to determine the real status of functional bed capacity.

Steps are being taken by the national government simultaneously to parallel the demand for healthcare in the country as the number of positive Covid-19 cases continues to rise. RT-PCR testing and vaccination efforts will be increased; telemedicine capacity outside NCR will be broadened, care of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 Health Facilities Sub-Cluster and the DOH Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service.

Nograles added that an increase in bed capacity in hospitals and temporary treatment and monitoring facilities in NCR and NCR Plus (Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal) is also being considered.

On Sunday, January 9, 2022, the Philippines recorded 28,707 new cases, the highest number of Covid-19 cases in a day since the pandemic started. The positivity rate in the country is now at 44 percent of the 77,479 tests conducted, which is significantly higher than the 5 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization.

On a more hopeful note, Nograles said full vaccinations and booster shot administrations play an integral role in preventing severe cases requiring hospitalizations, subsequently lessening the chances of an alarming level of healthcare utilization rate.

“This is what we’re seeing right now, those who are fully vaccinated only get mild symptoms or are even asymptomatic or are resolved in two days, three days…We’re seeing less hospitalization from fully vaccinated,” he said, as he urged the public to do their part in fighting the pandemic by getting fully vaccinated and getting their booster shots.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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