DOH to hospitals: Build 'step-down' facilities amid rising cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 23) — The Department of Health has asked hospitals to deploy "step-down" facilities to free more beds as new coronavirus infections continue to rise and threaten to overwhelm the healthcare system.

The "steady increase" in new COVID-19 cases across the country is draining hospitals anew, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega told CNN Philippines' News Night.

"We've been telling the hospitals and different institutions, both public and private, that they must come up with ways…a step-down facility where recuperating patients will be monitored and get the rehabilitation, instead of hospitals," Vega said. "This is one way to decongest hospitals."

Outside the capital, Vega said the healthcare utilization rate is high in Regions 2, 3, and 4A, adding that the government has been asking hospitals to increase the number of their intensive care units.

"We have increased our intensive care units (beds) by 1,300 plus as of this day," Vega said. "There will be more modular hospitals for moderate, severe, and critical cases."

On Monday, the Philippines recorded a new all-time high in its COVID-19 daily tally with 18,332 new infections.

The DOH also declared community transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant in Metro Manila and Calabarzon.