The Department of Health (DOH) last night issued an apology after it mistakenly identified four cities in Metro Manila as emerging COVID-19 hotspots.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire yesterday announced in a virtual presser that Marikina City (with +51 cases, and 43.47% growth rate), Muntinlupa City (+30 cases, 35.16% growth rate), Makati City (+135 cases, 30.18% growth rate), and Quezon City (+406 cases, 34.5% growth rate) were the new emerging hotspots in Metro Manila.
But later that night, the DOH issued a statement sent to health reporters, stressing that the four cities are not part of emerging coronavirus hotbeds in the country, and that the figures were based on previous reports. In fact, save for Quezon City, the other three cities showed a decline in recorded infections.
“The following cities were mistakenly classified as hotspots and was based on a report last month. We are thankful to report that as of July 5, the mentioned cities show a significant decline in case growth,” the statement read.
DOH said Marikina’s COVID-19 cases decreased by 68%, while Muntinlupa and Makati diminished its infections by 10% and 4% respectively. However, the department said that it is “closely monitoring Quezon City which has shown an increase by 34%”
Metro Manila hospitals reach full capacity
Meanwhile, in the same briefing, Vergeire said that at least 11 hospitals across Metro Manila have reportedly told DOH that they’ve reached full capacity for beds reserved for coronavirus-infected patients as of July 3.
These hospitals include the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, University of Santo Tomas Hospital, University of Perpetual Help Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center, Seamen’s Hospital, Philippine Children Medical Center, Metro North Medical Center and Hospital, Las Piñas Doctors Hospital, and De Los Santos Medical Center.
Yesterday, Vergeire complained that some hospitals have been ignoring the number of COVID-19 beds, leaving some to reject coronavirus patients. By DOH standards, Vergeire said at least 30% of hospital beds should be assigned to COVID-19 patients.
Stricter quarantine for Metro Manila?
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque meanwhile, said yesterday in a virtual briefing that Metro Manila may shift back to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine if the city’s hospitals continue to be overwhelmed by an influx of COVID-19-infected patients.
“We have two options. We go back to stricter quarantine or provide more facilities,” Roque said.
Metro Manila has been under general community quarantine (GCQ) for more than a month to date, after President Rodrigo Duterte extended GCQ in the capital for the second time on June 30, in a bid to reopen the economy, despite a steady log of coronavirus cases now pegged at 41,830 with 1,290 deaths and 11,452 recoveries.
GCQ in Metro Manila is in effect until July 15.
This article, Oops! Health dep’t misidentifies COVID-19 hotspots in Metro Manila, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!