7,379 cases lowest in two weeks

April 21, 2021

The Philippines logged on Tuesday 7,379 new cases—the lowest in two weeks—of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), bringing the  total to 953,106, as eight laboratories failed to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.

The DOH also reported 21,664 persons who recently recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 809,959, which is 85 percent of the total.

The DOH also reported 93 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 16,141, which is 1.69 percent of the total.

The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 67 percent of the ICU beds were utilized;  49 percent of the isolation beds were utilized;  56 percent of the ward beds were utilized;  and 46 percent of the ventilators were utilized.

In Metro Manila, 84 percent of the ICU beds were utilized;  61 percent of the isolation beds were utilized;  70 percent of the ward beds were utilized;  and 61 percent of the ventilators were utilized.

Vaccination czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. earlier said the country could receive nearly 14 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from 4 pharmaceutical companies within the second quarter this year.

Government data showed that as of April 18, nearly 1.5 million vaccine doses have been administered in the country.

Currently, only medical frontliners, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities are being inoculated.


Slow reimbursement

The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPI), which has 700 member hospitals nationwide, has demanded  that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.  (PhilHealth) reimburse them for costs they incurred related with treating patients afflicted with COVID-19.

Dr. Jose de Grano, president of PHAPI, in an interview on ABS-CBN News, said  that the amount of reimbursement applications with PhilHealth has reached between P26 billion and P28 billion, as of December 2020.

According to De Grano, this was just an “extrapolation” from their 114 hospital-members that submitted their claims, excluding private health institutions outside Metro Manila.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered PhilHealth to expedite the reimbursing claims.

PhilHealth last week acknowledged some “slowness” in reimbursing hospitals.


Time-based recoveries

The DOH will now be  having daily recording  of time-based recoveries of COVID-19 patients, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Vergeire, in an interview with Dobol B TV, said  the huge number of COVID-19 recoveries on Monday and in the last two Sundays were due to the DOH’s time-based logging mechanism which they release every week.

On Monday, the DOH reported 9,266 COVID-19 recoveries which was relatively higher than the usual three-digit daily recoveries that they report.

In the last two Sundays, the Philippines had tallied 72,607 recoveries on April 18,  and 55,204 recovered patients on April 11.

Vergeire said  that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III ordered them to give a “more comprehensive” report on the recoveries in DOH’s daily COVID-19 case bulletin.


Air travelers

Manila International Airport Authority general manager Eddie Monreal on Tuesday appealed to air travelers not to take chances in getting on to their flights if their COVID-19 test results showed they were positive for the virus.

Monreal said since January this year, 138 individuals, mostly passengers bound for foreign destinations, were intercepted at different security and airline checkpoints at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminals 1, 2 and 3 where they found positive for the coronavirus disease based on documents they presented.

Those travelers cited several reasons most common of which was that “they just learned about their test result when they were already in NAIA.”

Some made an alibi that they did not bother to look at their test results while others claimed their recruitment agencies instructed them to proceed to NAIA and wait for the results there.


Crucial role

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco hailed the crucial role played by the mainstream media in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 during a virtual event that brought together the leaders of the country’s broadcast industry.

Velasco told members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) during their general meeting and oathtaking of newly elected officers and trustees that the press played a vital role in spreading reliable news and information amid the pandemic.

“Timely, accurate, and verified information received thru the mainstream media has justly empowered our people, enabling greater and more equitable access to health care, preventing discrimination, and avoiding social stigmatization,” Velasco said in his message after administering the oath of office to KBP officers and trustees.

According to Velasco, access to reliable information and to free and independent media is essential to promote transparency and accountability, as well as combat misinformation and contribute to public confidence and support for government efforts to beat COVID-19.


Contact tracing

Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda cited the importance of an effective and efficient contact tracing as a tool to curb further local transmissions and reduce mortality rate of COVID-19 in the country.

“Contact tracing, if properly employed as a preventive strategy, will bolster the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact tracing was effectively implemented during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014. This may be a laborious process, but this can be a key component in ending the spread of COVID-19 virus,” Legarda, who represents Antique, said.

“Many countries have successfully employed contact tracing as a cornerstone of their COVID-19 response plans, such as South Korea, Singapore, and Germany. It has its limitations and challenges, but contact tracing is a proven strategy in containing infectious disease outbreaks. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that contact tracing is an essential public health tool that will break chains of transmission when systematically applied,” Legarda added.

She also proposed the hiring of contact tracers in the National Capital Region plus bubble areas then.


Boosting confidence

A congressional leader urged the DOH, Interior and Local Government and various groups of medical practitioners to step up their information campaign to boost the people’s confidence on the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccination program by holding regular webinars to be aired live on government television channels and radio stations.

“To win our battle against COVID-19, we need to strengthen the concerted effort of our government agencies and different groups to improve people’s vaccine confidence. On an individual level, this is the only way to attain herd immunity to beat the pandemic and gradually restore to normalcy,” Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr., chair of the House committee on natural resources, said Barzaga, president of the National Unity Party (NUP) in the Lower House, lamented that while many are still hesitant to be vaccinated even if it is meant to protect an individual from getting COVID-19.

source: https://manilastandard.net/news/coronavirus-2019/352402/7-379-cases-lowest-in-two-weeks.html