Philippines: Red Cross urges greater vigilance as COVID-19 cases fill hospitals

Manila, 28 July 2020 - Red Cross is urging everyone in the Philippines to be even more vigilant as COVID-19 cases continue to jump by more than a thousand each day following the easing of quarantine restrictions.

More than 80,000 people in the country have tested positive to COVID-19, with a record number of 2,539 cases in a single-day on 8 July. There are more than 42,000 confirmed cases this month alone, more than double the cases from January to June 30. The country has the most number of active cases compared to its neighbouring countries in South East Asia.

An increasing number of hospitals are reporting full capacity and can no longer accommodate COVID-19 patients. The Department of Health reported on 14 July that the COVID-19 bed capacity in the country’s capital, Metro Manila, has reached a “danger zone” with 76 percent of COVID-19 wards occupied. A “warning zone” has been declared in four regions which have at least 30 percent of isolation beds occupied.

Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said:

“The biggest threat is complacency as we are far from being out of the woods. We need to act like we already have the virus and keep wearing face masks and practising proper handwashing and physical distancing. While we all carry out our responsibility to protect ourselves and others, we in the Philippine Red Cross will continue responding and focusing our resources on key areas where we can create the most impact to help contain the disease. Together, we will prevail.”

Red Cross is playing a central role, working alongside the government in tracing, testing, isolating and treating COVID-19 patients. Thousands of volunteers are helping with surveillance and contact tracing. Seven molecular laboratories across the country have tested more than 300,000 people so far, comprising 26 percent of the national test output. Seventy-one medical tents have been set up to support public and private hospitals. Red Cross volunteers are also distributing emergency food packages, providing psychosocial support, promoting healthy behaviour and improved hygiene, reaching more than 700,000 people.

IFRC’s Acting Head of Philippine Country Office, Patrick Elliott said:

“These times are very challenging for all of us, but some are more at risk and we have growing concerns for the elderly, people with disabilities and families with members who have contracted the disease. We need greater efforts to overcome mounting stigma and fear in the community. Volunteers are providing for basic needs to reduce the worsening social and economic impacts of this tragic pandemic.”

Of the 16,000 families being assisted with cash grants, 4,500 families have members who have contracted the disease. They are also provided with food support while in quarantine.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is supporting National Societies in most at-risk countries through a global appeal. Philippines is second after Indonesia with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in South East Asia.

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