As the Philippine capital’s hospitals reach capacity due to a new surge in coronavirus cases, increasingly desperate Filipinos stock up on oxygen tanks and tout unapproved drugs amid fears that the care system medical condition may collapse.
Daily infections rose to a record last week in the Southeast Asian nation, where one in five tests for Covid-19 tests positive and vaccination rates are below its neighbors.
The Philippines is at risk of a “humanitarian crisis that will overwhelm the country and wipe out families” unless the government intensifies testing, tracing and treatment efforts, opposition senator Francis Pangilinan said in a statement. Declaration of April 3.
The country lags behind its neighbors in vaccinations, according to World Bank data, having administered 0.2 doses per 100 people in mid-March, compared to 2.4 doses in Indonesia and 1.1 doses in Malaysia.
The tension in the hospitals has even affected one of the country’s former presidents.
Former President Joseph Estrada spent the night in an emergency room after being rushed to a Manila hospital with complications from Covid-19 on March 28 as normal beds were taken. Estrada was later to admitHe went to the intensive care unit and is now on a ventilator as his pneumonia has worsened, his son said on Facebook. post on Tuesday.
Others don’t make it to the hospital at all.
“Many have already died inside the tents outside the hospitals, waiting to be to admittaken to the emergency room, by ambulance while in transit, at home without receiving any medical help, “said Vice President Leni Robredo, who leads the political opposition, in a Facebook post last week.
An increase in cases since mid-March led President Rodrigo Duterte to put Metro Manila and nearby provinces locked up for at least two weeks until April 11. The Philippines, with 812,760 total infections as of April 6, has the most active cases in Southeast Asia. Deaths have risen to 13,817 or 1.7% of total cases after adding a record 382 deaths on Tuesday due to late data.
Duterte, in a briefing on March 29, warned of the grim months ahead. “I am dealing with the Covid problem,” he said. “Actually, it takes me most of the time.”
Unable to accept new patients, some private hospitals offer home care. Medical City, an 800-bed hospital in Metro Manila, has three- to 10-day programs that cost as much as 65,000 pesos ($ 1,340) that includes infection control services, virtual monitoring, smears and blood extraction. On March 22, the hospital said its Covid-19 emergency, ICU floors and units arrived full capacity.
On social media like Twitter, users promote ivermectin, an antiparasitic veterinary drug, as a possible cure for Covid-19. The Philippine Food and Drug Administration is processing an application for the use of ivermectin in humans, the health department said on April 5.
Filipinos like Manila resident Jomarlo Moreno have resorted to purchasing oxygen tanks. After a relative with asthma tested positive for the virus and had difficulty breathing, but could not be accommodated in a hospital ward, Moreno paid 3,500 pesos for the equipment.
“We are lucky to have the resources,” he said. “What about others who don’t?”
More than 80% of the intensive care capacity in Metro Manila is full, 60% of the fans are already in use and 70% of the isolation beds are occupied, according to the health department. Health facility occupancy has increased since the agency began reporting data two weeks ago.
The Undersecretary of Health, María Rosario Vergeire, blamed the spread of variants for the increase. From October to February, fewer than 3,500 people tested positive daily, but infections rose to a record 15,298 on April 2. The daily count was 8,355 on April 5, as many labs closed over the Easter holidays.
At the Philippine Orthopedic Center in Manila, 117 out of 180 employees tested positive last week, forcing the closure of its outpatient department that sees up to 450 patients a day. The Manila Pulmonary Center of the Philippines, with its emergency room at 200% capacity, does not accept walk-ins.
The government will move recovering patients to isolation facilities and hotels, Vergeire said, and move health workers from the provinces with fewer infections to Manila.
“It’s not that we are not prepared,” he said Monday. “The increase in the number of cases was unexpected. Unfortunately, the variants have spread faster and the increase has been tremendous. “
– With the assistance of Clarissa Batino, Ditas B Lopez, Ian C Sayson and Siegfrid Allegado
(Updates the case and death counts in the ninth paragraph, the intensive care capacity in the fifteenth.)