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Critical care facilities in NCR getting decongested as utilization down by 60%

The National Capital Region’s (NCR) capacity to care for those in need of critical care during the COVID-19 pandemic has dropped, an indication that the health crisis situation is gradually improving, the Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, Health Undersecretary Mario Rosario Vergeire said that the critical care utilization rate in Metro Manila - a measure of the healthcare system’s capacity to tend to those in need of special medical attention - has dropped to about 60% from a “danger zone” level of 81%.

“Critical care utilization [or] the use of ICUs, isolation beds, ventilators, umabot po tayo sa danger zone nung August... almost 80 to 81%. Pero ngayon po critical care utilization is already down,” Vergeire said.

The Health official noted that the easing of critical care utilization rate indicates that healthcare facilities are being decongested, thus having more capacity to accept more patients in need of medical attention.

Meanwhile, the utilization rate of ICU beds in the NCR stood at 63%. For the utilization of beds in COVID-19 or isolation wards, the rate stood at 53%.

To recall, early in August, Metro Manila reverted to a modified enhanced community quarantine for two weeks due to calls of the healthcare sector for a “time out” amid the rising COVID-19 cases being admitted in hospitals.

Asked if the NCR can shift to a less strict modified general community quarantine, Vergeire noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force is balancing health, economy, and other factors before deciding on a community quarantine classification.

“This has to be balanced kapag nagdesisyon po at ito naman ay gagawin ng IATF,” she said.

Experts from the OCTA research team warned against prematurely relaxing community quarantines particularly in Metro Manila despite the downtrend in the number of COVID-19 cases reported daily.

In an earlier interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Vegeire emphasized that the implementation of a community quarantine in the country or in a certain area should be based on science.

The general community quarantine in Metro Manila will expire on September 30, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce what will be the quarantine level to be implemented in the coming weeks thereafter. -MDM, GMA News