Infections push past 640,000 as DOH records another spike

THE Philippines saw another steep increase in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases Thursday, March 18, 2021, as the Department of Health (DOH) reported 5,290 new infections.
These pushed the cumulative case count to 640,984, and brought the number of active cases in hospitals and isolation facilities to a new six-month high of 66,567.
The daily tally exceeded 4,000 for seven days in a row, and hit at least 5,000 three times within the period.
In its case bulletin at 4 p.m. Thursday, the DOH also listed 21 additional mortalities and 429 recoveries.
The Covid-19 death toll increased to 12,887 while the case fatality rate, given the rapid rise in infections and the low number of deaths, declined further to 2.01 percent.
Total recoveries climbed to 561,530, or 87.6 percent of the countrys caseload.
The DOH case bulletin also showed that the daily positivity rate remained at a high of 14.1 percent as 5,635 out of the 39,865 samples tested were found positive for Sars-CoV-2.
Hospitals in Metro Manila, where around 47 percent or nearly half of the new cases are located, are filling up, DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega admitted during the virtual press briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier Thursday.
Vega, who heads the One Hospital Command Center, said healthcare utilization rates were increasing, especially for the intensive care units (ICU).
Of the estimated 679 ICU beds dedicated for Covid-19 patients in Metro Manila, close to 64 percent were occupied as of Thursday, Vega said.
The situation is worse in some cities. Vega said Level 3 hospitals, both public and private, in Manila, Makati and Taguig have reported utilization rates of 80 to 83 percent.
Ito yung binabantayan po namin kasi kung puede po kaming makatulong in terms of coordinating care and referral sa mga hospitals na may allocation pa po for Covid-19 patients, he said.
The One Hospital Command Center is a a referral network linked with service providers such as hospitals, quarantine facilities and medical transportation to facilitate care for Covid-19 patients.
Based on the DOH tracker, three cities in Metro Manila had the highest 14-day running total of new cases as of March 17.
Quezon City had the highest at 4,890 for the period, followed by Manila with 3,684 and Pasay with 2,776.
Other areas with the highest number of new cases in the last 14 days were Cavite with 2,582 and Bulacan with 2,302.
Among the regions, Metro Manila or National Capital Region had the highest 14-day number of new cases at 25,359, followed by Calabarzon (6,912), Central Visayas (5,186), Central Luzon (3,867) and Cordillera (1,824). (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)