The national government will be ramping up hospital bed capacity, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing, and vaccination in the wake of record high daily Covid-19 infections.
Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Sub-Technical Working Group (sTWG) on Data Analytics recommended implementing an increase in the availability of bed capacity in the National Capital Region (NCR) and surrounding areas (NCR Plus).
NCR Plus is composed of the NCR and the nearby provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal.
He said the IATF-sTWG also recommended coordinating with the relevant stakeholders to integrate monitoring of the capacity of Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs) in its measurement of health systems capacity.
Nograles noted that the task force suggested ensuring that patients needing care are promptly and appropriately referred as well as reassessing the capacity of TTMFs, increasing TTMF capacity where needed, and removing any referral quotas from hospitals.
He said the Department of Health (DOH) Field Implementation and Coordination Team (FICT) and the National Task Force (NTF) Health Facilities Sub-Cluster have been instructed to immediately communicate with NCR hospitals to determine how the Covid-19 bed capacity is being allocated.
The NTF Health Facilities Sub-Cluster, together with the DOH Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service, were instructed to increase the capacity of telehealth and telemedicine outside NCR, he added.
The One Hospital Command Center was recommended to ensure as close to real-time updating of health systems capacity as possible based on functional bed capacity to take into consideration the level of available health care workers.
To handle the influx of tests, Nograles said the IATF sTWG on Data Analytics recommended the Covid-19 Laboratory Network to increase RT-PCR testing capacity in NCR Plus by ensuring that laboratories are operational seven days a week.
The IATF sTWG also recommended prioritizing senior citizens and persons with comorbidities or those under the A2 and A3 priority list.
Applications for Licenses to Operate for new RT-PCR laboratories were recommended to be fast-tracked.
The IATF sTWG was also urged to promptly provide commodities for swabbing and testing.
The National Vaccination Operations Center was also directed to increase vaccination rates outside NCR “as soon as possible.”
To date, over 50 million individuals in the Philippines are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.