THE latest data on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) critical care utilization rate for both private and public health facilities in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu show that the health care system is still capable as the majority of confirmed active cases are asymptomatic.
As of 8 p.m. Friday, March 12, 2021, the utilization rate was still below the 60 percent threshold, according to Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, Department of Health (DOH) 7 spokesperson.
For hospitals, the utilization rate for Covid intensive care unit (ICU) beds is 44.4 percent; for Covid ward beds, 41.6 percent; and for Covid isolation beds, 51 percent.
For infirmaries, she said no one is admitted at the Covid ICU, while the utilization rate for Covid ward beds is 55.7 percent and for isolation beds, 28.7 percent.
At Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs), only 15.90 percent of the allotted isolation beds are in use and only 23.14 percent of the allotted Covid ward beds are occupied.
Based on the same report, of the 295 allotted Covid beds in government hospitals in Cebu City, 206 are occupied. For private hospitals, 244 beds are occupied while 338 beds are still available.
Loreche said majority of the active cases logged in the three highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu are asymptomatic.
As of Friday, a total of 2,352 asymptomatic to mild cases were admitted in Cebu City’s TTMFs.
In hospitals that cater to Covid-19 patients, 73 asymptomatic patients were admitted; 119 patients had mild symptoms; 134 had moderate symptoms; 49 were in severe condition; and 12 were in critical condition.
In Mandaue City, 993 asymptomatic to mild patients were confined in TTMFs.
No asymptomatic patient was admitted in any of the hospitals in the city, but 64 patients with mild symptoms were, followed by 22 patients with moderate symptoms, 15 patients in severe condition and five who are in critical condition.
In Lapu-Lapu City, 1,067 asymptomatic to mild patients were confined in TTMFs.
As to hospital admission, 23 are mild cases, 33 are moderate, two are severe and one is in critical condition.
The critical care utilization rate measures the number of beds and mechanical ventilators designated for Covid-19 patients that are in use in a certain period.
A critical care utilization rate of 70 percent and above falls within the danger zone.
As of Saturday, March 13, the DOH 7 logged 146 new cases and 322 additional recoveries in Cebu City, bringing the city’s number of active cases to 2,561.
It logged 67 new cases in Mandaue City, bringing its number of active cases to 1,166. There were no new reported recoveries.
It also logged 45 new cases and 98 additional recoveries in Lapu-Lapu City, bringing the city’s total number of active cases to 1,071.
On Saturday, the DOH central office announced that the P.1 variant (Brazil) of Sars-CoV-2 has been detected in the Philippines and the mutations detected earlier mostly in Cebu and Central Visayas have officially been designated as the P.3 variant.
The UP Philippine Genome Center (PGC) said the new P.3 variant, which was first detected in Central Visayas, has been “linked to possible increased transmissibility and immune escape in some studies.”
Although further studies are still needed, the PGC on Saturday called for strengthened measures to prevent transmission of this variant to nearby islands and other countries.
In a separate statement, the DOH downplayed the significance of the P.3 variant, saying it “is not identified as a variant of concern as current available data are insufficient to conclude whether the variant will have significant public health implications.”
The DOH said the P.3 variant belongs to the B.1.1.28 lineage along with the P.1 variant. This has been verified with the Phylogenetic Assignment of Named Global Outbreak Lineages (Pangolin).
The PGC, for its part, said the new P.3 variant contains the mutations E484K, N501Y, P681H and LGV 141-143, which are “likely to have functional significance.”
“The said mutations, together with three amino acid deletion in the spike protein at positions 141 to 143, have been linked to possible increased transmissibility and immune escape in some studies,” PGC said.
The PGC said further studies are needed to determine this new variant’s effect on transmissibility (rate of infection), pathogenicity (severity of the disease) and immunogenicity (impact on vaccine efficacy) of Sars-CoV-2.
The earliest P.3 case was collected on Jan. 8, 2021. The multiple mutations were first identified from a sequencing run on Feb. 4, 2021. This variant has since been detected in all subsequent sequencing batches, according to the PGC.
“The collection dates of the samples detected to be under this lineage coincide with a sharp increase in Sars-CoV-2 infections in Central Visayas,” it added.
Meanwhile, the DOH said the PGC has also confirmed 59 new Covid-19 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant (UK), 32 additional cases with the B.1.351 (South Africa) and 13 more cases with the P.3 variant.
As of March 13, there are 177 cases with the B.1.1.7, 90 cases with the B.1.351 and 98 cases with the P.3 variant in the country.
The new cases with the variants were among the 752 coronavirus-positive samples (10th batch) sequenced by the PGC. Most of the specimens were collected from the National Capital Region (NCR), Calabarzon and Cordillera Administrative Region.
The P.1 variant, which was first detected in four travelers from Brazil in Japan, was detected in a sample taken from a returning overseas Filipino (ROF) with an address in Western Visayas. The ROF came from Brazil, DOH said in a statement.
Of the additional 59 cases with the B.1.1.7 lineage, 30 are local cases, 18 are ROFs and 11 are under verification. Sixteen are from the Cordillera, 10 from the NCR, two from Central Luzon and two from Calabarzon.
Among the new B.1.351 cases, 21 are local cases, one is an ROF and 10 are under verification. Nineteen are from the NCR, one from Cagayan Valley and one from Northern Mindanao.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these variants of Sars-CoV-2 are highly transmissible. Studies are still being conducted to verify initial reports of higher risk of death and resistance to antibodies.
Sars-CoV-2 causes Covid-19, which has infected more than 119 million people worldwide as of March 13, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 2.6 million people had died. (WBS / MVI / SunStar Philippines)