Churches tapped as vaccination sites; minors next in line

MANILA, Philippines — The government is tapping Catholic churches as vaccination centers during the two-week lockdown to help speed up the inoculation of Metro Manila residents and prevent the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 from further spreading.

The government is also planning to start inoculating those below 18 years old starting next month or October following the reported infections among minors.

Public and private hospitals were swamped with COVID-19 patients as the National Capital Region (NCR) imposed a two-week lockdown to curb the transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant.

“Majority of hospitals are on the brink of (hitting) full capacity, particularly their intensive care units (ICU). We are seeing also younger adults having severe COVID-19,” said Philippine College of Physicians secretary Dr. Rontgene Solante.

On Sunday, 287 more people were reported to have died from COVID-19, the highest daily death toll since April 9.

About half or 149 of the latest deaths were previously recorded as recovered. COVID-19 has now claimed 29,122 lives.

The Department of Health (DOH) also said that 9,671 more COVID-19 cases were detected, bringing the country’s total known COVID-19 cases to 1,658,916.

The positivity rate, or the percentage of COVID-19 positive tests, was the highest since April 10 after 20.3 percent of the 51,296 people tested last Aug. 6 were infected with the virus.

The surging cases have prompted a government hospital to ask for additional medical workers from the DOH as it tackled COVID-19 infections at full capacity, a situation complicated by the rise in the number of leptospirosis cases.

In an advisory on Sunday, National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) Executive Director Dr. Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete noted an increasing number of COVID-19 and leptospirosis patients.

While she did not give a figure, she said it was enough for NKTI to repurpose its gym for leptospirosis cases and “partially answer our patients’ needs.”

Right now, we are in full capacity of our COVID-19 in hospital beds and the five tents, with more than 50 patients at the ER (emergency room),” Rosete-Liquete said.

She added that they would repurpose a number of wards into isolation rooms in the coming weeks, but until then they would have to limit ER admissions only to urgent and renal cases.

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