MANILA, Philippines — More than half of the total COVID-19 fatalities in the country were patients who were already lifeless upon arrival at hospitals.
This grim plight was revealed in a Senate hearing on Friday, as Senator Joel Villanueva raised such “bothering statistics” on COVID-19 during deliberations on the proposed 2021 national budget of the Department of Health (DOH).
Villanueva cited DOH’s data showing that as of October 5, some 3,279—or 56 percent—of the 5,840 Filipinos who died of COVID-19 did not receive medical treatment at hospitals.
“We find these statistics, even more, bothering considering that the DOH portal shows that as of October 6, 2020, 50 percent of ICU beds are still vacant,” the senator noted.
According to DOH Secretary Francisco Duque, one of the reasons behind the particular COVID-19 statistics was that most of the patients reaching hospital emergency rooms (ER) were already in “irreversible” conditions.
“One of the reasons I am told why there seems to be a substantial number of deaths that have not been admitted, a good number—I’m trying to have it validated—was dead-on-arrival in the various emergency rooms hospitals,” Duque said.
“This is really unfortunate because the condition of the patients once they arrive in the ER becomes irreversible. DOA ang malaking bilang po nito,” he added.
Further, Duque cited the behavior of most Filipinos when it comes to seeking medical attention as also among the reasons why many COVID-19 patients die without being admitted to hospitals.
“Most Filipinos, especially the poor, iniintay na lang hanggang sa talagang malubhang-malubha na po ang karamdaman bago po pumunta sa ospital,” he said.
“Ang Universal Health Care law ang layunin nito ay mabigyan ng kaagaran na pangangalaga at pagtugon sa mga sakit habang hindi pa po gumagrabe. Kinakailangan po doon sa mga primary care facilties ng mga [local government units] ay handa po silang tugunan ang mga kasong ito para maiwasan po ‘yung dead-on-arrival,” he added.
According to the same DOH data cited by Villanueva, 76 percent or 1,233 of the 1,629 critical COVID-19 cases are not admitted to hospitals as of October 5.
The Philippines has recorded 331,869 COVID-19 cases as of October 8, including 274,318 recoveries and 6,069 deaths.
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