This week marks the deadliest period of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, with daily infections expected to hit, or even surpass, the 10,000 a day level and with worst-case figures pegged at between 12,000 and 13,000 a day this April.
In the week just passed, the country saw all-time highs in four of the last seven days, rising progressively from the initial all-time high of nearly 7,000 cases in March 19 to almost 10,000 cases Friday, last week.
Experts even sought a two-week modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to be imposed in Metro Manila. The University of the Philippines-based OCTA Research group said “lives and livelihood” would be saved if the government extended its latest lockdown but the government rejected the proposal.
Last week started with 29 public and private hospitals declaring that they could no longer accept new patients as they had already reached full capacity. By the end of the week, that number had bloated to 40.
The situation has deteriorated to the point that “home care” packages have been created wherein COVID-19-positive patients will remain at their homes and be visited regularly by a physician. The patient, however, must be quarantined in a separate room with no member of the household allowed near him/her.
Various doctors said the current period will see the highest level of infections because the economy was opened too soon earlier this month. As such, the public began to be infected two weeks ago, with most not even aware that they were already positive for COVID-19.
This is the week when most will show all the symptoms of the dread disease.
The second wave began in mid-March. The number of daily infections had been hovering between 1,500 and 2,000 before the surge began.
The latest high of nearly 10,000 cases exceeds the worst period in mid-2020, when the average were in the vicinity of 7,000/day.
An advisory from UP said this week, “the incubation date is met and many positives will start to come out and many people can get it.”
The advisory recommends the most extreme measures be taken, where no one should leave home “even to buy bread.”
In preparation for the expected surge in coronavirus infections, the government ordered restrictions on movement of residents in Greater Manila, covering Metro Manila plus the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is even stricter than what was imposed last year, with a curfew lasting from 6:00pm to 5:00am effective March 29 to Easter Sunday, April 4.
Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi blamed the surge in infections to “pandemic fatigue,” with countless Filipinos seeking a return to normalcy by disregarding health protocols.
The PGH is the country’s main COVID-19 referral center for severe cases and was among those that stopped accepting patients two weeks ago. Other hospitals have set up tents in their parking areas but even these have already reached full capacity.
Jonas del Rosario, a spokesman for PGH, said their doctors and nurses “are quite tired, some are sick, some in quarantine.”