News Release

Investing in healthcare facilities key to addressing new COVID variants – Palace

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr today, May 11,2021, underscored the need to prioritize the people’s total health and the importance of investing in healthcare facilities in light of the Department of Health’s confirmation of the detection of the B.1.617 coronavirus variant in the Philippines.

“Alam po natin na mas nakakahawa at mas nakakamatay po itong Indian variant na ito,” reminded Secretary Roque. The Palace official said that the national government did all it can to prevent the said variant from getting into the country.

Secretary Roque stressed that all precautions are still in place, including the temporary prohibition of entry of travelers coming from India and its neighboring countries, and the completion of a 14-day facility-based quarantine period for all arriving passengers.

The Palace spokesperson also mentioned that genome sequencing of samples taken from travelers who tested positive are also being continued to ascertain the presence of the Indian variant.

“We are aiming for total health. Alam po natin na habang nakasarado ang ating ekonomiya, marami talagang nahihirapan, maraming nagugutom, Roque remarked.

“Ito rin po ang dahilan kung bakit pinapataas po natin yung ating healthcare capacity at patuloy pa nating patataasin yan kasi whether or not there is a new Indian variant, mas mura po para sa ating bansa na mag-invest sa healthcare facilities kaysa isarado po ang ating ekonomiya,” added Secretary Roque.

In today’s press briefing, Roque cited data from the Department of Health that show improvements in the healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) in the National Capital Region. Roque said that from 759 ICU beds on March 27 before the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, an additional 503 ICU beds have been added, for a total of 1,262 ICU beds as of May 9.

“Ibig sabihin, mula 72 percent noong March 27, at pumalo ng 88 percent noong April 7 to 16, bumaba na po ito sa 67 percent noong May 9, moderate risk na po yan,” said Roque.

Aside from improvements in ICU beds utilization, Roque added that utilization of isolation beds and COVID-19 wards beds have also improved. From a peak of 73 percent utilization rate of isolation beds from April 7 to 16, it decreased to 57 percent as of May 9. For COVID-19 ward beds, from a peak of 72 percent from April 7 to 16, utilization went down to 51 percent as of May 9.

Meanwhile, on the matter of repatriating Filipino nationals from India, Roque said that the travel ban is still in effect and that a flight to the Philippines could be chartered. “Lahat po ng nais umuwi galing sa India, ipagbigay alam ninyo lang po sa ating embahada at mayroon naman pong mga hakbang na ginagawa para marepatriate sila,” Roque said.

He also reminded Filipinos in India who wished to be repatriated that they will be subject to very strict testing and quarantine protocols upon arrival in the country, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine period regardless of a positive or negative RT-PCR test result.

On another matter, Sec. Roque announced that the Philippines is under a State of Calamity due to the African Swine Fever Outbreak. “Nilagdaan kahapon, May 10, ang Proclamation No. 1143, na nag-dedeklara ng nasabing state of calamity sa buong bansa sa loob ng isang taon, unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant,” said Roque.

Aside from this, Roque also mentioned about the signing of Executive Order No. 133 yesterday, May 10, which increases the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork for the year 2021. From 54,210 metric tons (MT), the MAV was increased to 254,210 MT, provided that any unavailable balance at the end of 2021 shall not be carried over to 2022. ### OPS-PCOO