PGH says pediatric COVID cases 'getting sicker' as hospital nears full capacity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 4) — Children who are admitted to the Philippine General Hospital due to COVID-19 are now getting sicker, its spokesperson disclosed on Wednesday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, PGH spokesperson Jonas del Rosario said seven out of eight allocated beds for pediatric COVID-19 patients are already occupied.

He said three of the patients were intubated, while "the rest are oxygen-requiring."

"We did admit pediatric COVID-19 cases in the past," Del Rosario said. "It just seems to us they are sicker now."

"When we mean sicker, most have severe pneumonia and need to be intubated," he explained, adding that some of the cases have underlying comorbidities and are more vulnerable to the virus.

The PGH is also grappling with the rising COVID-19 cases, as its intensive care unit for adult patients already reached almost 90% capacity, with only five or six remaining buffer beds that are not enough for admitted moderate cases and other patients waiting to be accommodated.

"Doon sa waiting to be admitted (from other hospitals), there are about five na nakalista," Del Rosario pointed out. "Sa iba naman na nasa bahay pa, close to 10 na severely ill na dapat ma-admit sa ICU setup ng PGH."

[Translation: For those who are waiting to be admitted, five have been listed. But there are others at home, close to 10 of them who are severely ill, also need to be admitted to the ICU setup of PGH.]

Dr. Benjamin Campomanes, chief medical officer and vice president at St. Luke's Medical Center, said he is also seeing a "steady increase" in hospital admissions in Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, with most of the admitted patients unvaccinated or only had their first dose.

"They are definitely younger," he said of the patients. "We are seeing people in their late 30s...to 50s and I would think that this would comprise the unvaccinated or had only the first dose."

"Remember these are the patients or profile patients not in the A1 to A4 group," he noted.

Campomanes added that in just two weeks, their admitted COVID-19 patients also rose from 55 to 149, while occupied ICU beds rose from 13 to 27.

St. Luke's is ready to increase manpower and expand its capacity to up to 50% if the situation worsens due to the feared Delta variant, he also said.

The government is prioritizing individuals within the A1 to A4 sectors for vaccination. They are comprised of health workers, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities and other essential workers.

No announcement has been made as to when the other succeeding groups can be vaccinated.

The government, however, said it will ramp up its vaccine drive for those under A1 to A4, as Metro Manila shifts to the strictest enhanced community quarantine for two weeks starting Aug. 6.