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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

MANILA – Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon has expressed concern over the high occupancy rate of COVID-19 hospitals in Metro Manila.

Drilon made the remarks following the report of the Department of Health (DOH) that hospitals, particularly in Metro Manila, are about to reach the “danger zone” as 82.2 percent of their total COVID-19 bed capacity are already occupied due to the influx of patients infected by the dreaded disease.

“It’s a cause for alarm. Hospital beds are running out. Patients were dying while waiting for hospital beds. Patients are already spreading the virus while waiting for their test results,” said Drilon.

The DOH earlier further warned that the health system is close to being overwhelmed and hospitals in other regions such as Regions 3 and 4-A are also nearing the “warning zone” with almost 50% of their bed capacity already occupied.

“What now, DOH? Naghihingalo na po ang ating mga hospital. Hihintayin pa ba natin na umabot sa 100% ang occupancy rate?” Drilon asked.

The veteran legislator reiterated his call for the government to come up with a comprehensive plan to address the pandemic—from the rising cases of infection to the effects of the current health crisis to the economy.

“We need a concrete plan. Otherwise, we will not be able to move forward in this fight against COVID-19 pandemic. While the rest of the world are already on the road to recovery, the Philippines would always be back to square one without a comprehensive plan,” Drilon stressed.

Drilon said the government could no longer rely on its past strategies, like the shotgun approach in implementing the world’s longest and most stringent lockdowns, saying they were complete failures.

The Senate official warned that “time is ticking” for the DOH as he urged the agency to move as quickly as possible “to prevent overwhelming our health care system.”

He added that if hospitals are overwhelmed, it could cause serious problems and even devastating consequences for the country.

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