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World 'Full capacity everywhere': Manila hospitals struggle as virus surges

07:50  09 april  2021
07:50  09 april  2021 Source:   afp.com

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At least three hospitals in the Philippine capital region said they could no longer accept coronavirus patients as they’ve reached the bed capacity of their Covid-19 wards. St. Luke’s Medical Center, in an advisory, asked the public to consider bringing critically ill Covid-19 patients to other hospitals as the intensive care units in its two facilities have reached full capacity . Hospitals in the capital were ordered to boost capacity to accommodate more coronavirus patients as the region sees a surge in infections, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on July 7, citing President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman

Medical chiefs in England raced to boost treatment capacity on Thursday as a surge in coronavirus cases risked overwhelming hospitals , even as the government stepped up its mass inoculation campaign. A leaked briefing suggested that London’s hospitals were on the brink of running out of The UK on Wednesday confirmed more than 62,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours (JUSTIN TALLIS AFP / MANILA BULLETIN). The UK on Thursday recorded another 1,162 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19 — the second highest toll since the peak of the first wave in April last year.

Angelo Barrera's father struggled to breathe from Covid-19 as he was driven around the Philippine capital in search of a hospital bed. After five hours he got on a waitlist, but died before he could get inside.

Isolation facilities are being expanded in an effort to ease the burden on hospitals and stop the virus spreading in crowded households © Jam STA ROSA Isolation facilities are being expanded in an effort to ease the burden on hospitals and stop the virus spreading in crowded households a large bed in a room: More contagious variants of the coronavirus have been blamed for a record surge in infections in Metro Manila © JAM STA ROSA More contagious variants of the coronavirus have been blamed for a record surge in infections in Metro Manila

More contagious variants of the coronavirus have been blamed for a record surge in infections in Metro Manila that has overstretched hospitals and sent the national capital region into lockdown.

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As hospitals in the Philippine capital reach capacity from a new surge of coronavirus cases, increasingly desperate Filipinos are stocking up on oxygen tanks and touting unapproved medications amid fears the health care system may collapse. Daily infections rose to a record last week in the Filipinos like Manila resident Jomarlo Moreno have resorted to buying 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 shelled out 3,500 pesos for the equipment. “We are lucky that we have the

About 250,000 people in Manila will go back into lockdown, an official said Monday, as the number of new coronavirus infections in the Philippines surges . Residents in Navotas, one of 16 cities that make up the sprawling capital of 12 million people, will have to stay home for a fortnight, just six weeks Tiangco said he has asked the capital's police chief to deploy troops to enforce the orders and arrest violators. Quarantine measures to contain the virus vary across the Philippines, but the strictest and longest lockdown was in Manila , the center of the country's outbreak. It shut down in mid-March and

a person holding a sign: Many have turned to social media to crowdsource information on facilities still accepting patients -- and vent their frustration at the hospital bottlenecks © JAM STA ROSA Many have turned to social media to crowdsource information on facilities still accepting patients -- and vent their frustration at the hospital bottlenecks

Long queues at emergency rooms have forced people to drive from one health facility to the next in search of treatment, in a situation described by a hospital official as a "nightmare".

"They went to eight hospitals physically -- it was full capacity everywhere," said Barrera, who called an additional 20 medical centres during his father's ordeal last month.

The 61-year-old pastor, who had no pre-existing conditions, suddenly collapsed after suffering mild symptoms of the disease for about 10 days.

"Admission was full, ER was full and even the waitlist for the ER was full. Some hospitals had told us they had 40 patients waiting to get into the ER," said Barrera.

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MANILA , Philippines — The Philippine president has agreed to place the capital and outlying provinces back under a lockdown after medical groups warned that the country was waging “a losing battle” against the coronavirus amid an alarming surge in infections. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Monday that metropolitan Manila , the capital region of more than 12 million people and five densely populated provinces will revert to stricter quarantine restrictions for two weeks starting Tuesday.

Rural hospitals are struggling to find larger facilities to take care of patients that need more complex care as COVID-19 surges across the country. Norton County Hospital is facing a major problem in recent days: Figuring out where to send patients that need a higher level of care. As larger hospitals become overwhelmed with serious cases of COVID-19, the options are dwindling. For Norton, the closest hospital that it has been able to transport patients is six hours away.

a tent in a yard: The government is distributing modular tents to struggling hospitals and re-deploying health workers from regions where virus transmission rates are low © Jam STA ROSA The government is distributing modular tents to struggling hospitals and re-deploying health workers from regions where virus transmission rates are low

Eventually, at around 4:00 am, a large private hospital added him to its waitlist for the intensive care unit.

He was on a stretcher and hooked up to an oxygen tank in the patient drop-off area outside the packed emergency room when he died, said Barrera, who declined to name his father.

"Even though we know the ICU isn't miraculously going to save him it was still our best shot."

A Covid-19 referral hotline set up during the pandemic to direct the sick to the appropriate hospital has been swamped, unable to handle the hundreds of calls a day to the service.

Many have turned to social media to crowdsource information on facilities still accepting patients -- and vent their frustration at the hospital bottlenecks.

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Hospitals across the country are at or nearing limits on capacity . In rural towns like Ashland, Alabama, to the small city of Watertown, South Dakota, to small metro areas like Amarillo, Texas, ICUs are at or above capacity , according to the HHS data. Hospitals are getting ready for another wave of patients after the record number of weekly cases in the two weeks following Thanksgiving. The HHS data shows about 88% of ICU beds in Potter County, which includes Amarillo, were full as of a week ago. Lamanteer and his counterpart at Northwest Texas, another Amarillo hospital , have discussed plans

"We called 48 hospitals in & around Metro Manila for a friend; her oxygen is at 75%," Laurel Flores Fantauzzo tweeted on March 31.

"All are full. Many won't add to waitlists. I wish there were field hospitals. Medical ships. Transformed stadiums. We'll pay whatever to save her but the infrastructure doesn't exist. Help, please."

- 'Dire situation' -

In a bid to slow the spread of the virus and decongest hospitals, authorities last month ordered more than 24 million people in the capital and four neighbouring provinces to stay home unless they are essential workers.

A week after lockdown was imposed, 70-80 percent of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients were full, while ICU beds were "almost 100 percent" occupied in most of the capital, Health Undersecretary Maria Vergeire said.

"It's a dire situation -- it is the worst nightmare of a hospital manager happening in reality," said Jaime Almora, president of the Philippine Hospital Association.

Leland Ustare, an anaesthesiologist at St Luke's Medical Center, said some patients were spending days in the emergency room waiting for an intensive care bed.

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"This time is even worse than last year," Ustare said, referring to the first few months of the pandemic.

"The numbers are really worse."

The government is distributing modular tents to struggling hospitals and re-deploying health workers from regions where virus transmission rates are low.

Isolation facilities were being expanded to include schools and hotel rooms for mild cases in an effort to ease the burden and stop the virus spreading in crowded households.

The World Health Organization warned hospitals were nearing a "red line" where demand exceeded healthcare capacity.

"It's very, very important to avoid crossing this red line," said Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.

- 'Bleak months ahead' -

Almora said the problem in hospitals was a lack of health workers, not beds.

"The hospitals have the capacity, they have the beds, but they cannot expand their capability because of the manpower problem," he said.

Some nurses have resigned out of fear of catching the virus or gone abroad to work in hospitals where the risks were the same but the pay higher, he said.

Government insurance restrictions on copayments was also deterring smaller facilities from accepting Covid-19 patients, Almora added.

President Rodrigo Duterte, whose government has been under fire over its handling of the pandemic and vaccine rollout, warned last week of "bleak months" ahead.

The country's caseload of more than 828,000 -- the second highest in Southeast Asia -- was expected to top a million before the end of April.

Amid growing panic, some lawmakers and doctors are pushing for the anti-parasite drug ivermectin -- touted by some on social media as a Covid-19 "miracle cure" -- to be approved for widespread use.

The WHO says ivermectin should only be used as a Covid-19 treatment in clinical trials, citing "inconclusive" evidence.

Unemployed hotel worker Rodell Nazario said his 46-year-old wife passed away last month after waiting two days at home for a hospital admission.

As her condition worsened he piled her into a taxi, but she was dead by the time they reached the emergency room.

"The cases would not have ballooned if they (the government) were doing the right thing," said Nazario.

"They locked down but then they allowed the people to go out again."

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Anti-vaxx: Are these diseases making a comeback? .
Vaccines have saved millions of lives by eradicating or slowing the propagation of numerous illnesses. Without scientists like Edward Jenner (1749-1823), the father of immunology, and Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), the father of vaccination, diseases such as smallpox and tetanus would still cause thousands of deaths each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that vaccines saved the lives of at least 10 million people between 2010 and 2015. While several illnesses have apparently disappeared from the face of the earth, some diseases have seen a comeback in recent years. Authorities lay most of the blame on the anti-vaccination movement. Which diseases have vaccines eradicated? Which ones are experiencing a resurgence? Read on to find out.

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