DEPUTY Majority Leader and Quezon City (4th district) Representative Jesus “Bong” Suntay filed a resolution seeking to use some hotels as treatment/isolation centers for patients suffering from mild COVID-19 symptoms.
In his House Resolution, Suntay said “the repurposing of the hotels and other accommodation facilities as alternative health facilities can contribute in mitigating the effects of the pandemic in the industry,” as infection rates continue to overwhelm healthcare facilities in the country.
“The House of Representatives, in session assembled, urge His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, under the powers vested in him under the Constitution, to direct the repurposing of inoperative hotel and other accommodation facilities to host mild COVID patients and/or other Non-COVID patients in order to decongest hospitals in Metro Manila,” Suntay stated in his resolution.
According to him, healthcare professionals are claiming that hospitals are now running at critical or near capacity level—some already reached or has gone beyond their capacity limit. “The Department of Health, through their COVID Bulletin, has revealed that over 79 percent of ICU beds, 72 percent of Isolation Beds, and 60% of Ward Beds in the National Capital Region are already occupied,” Suntay noted.
The lawmaker added that with many hotels on lockdown due to the reactivation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the NCR Plus area, the repurposing would help mitigate the financial losses brought about by the closing of these temporary residential facilities.
Suntay’s resolution is in line with the appeal of a group of doctors from the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) urging President Rodrigo Duterte to use some Metro Manila hotels as infirmary facilities to reduce the number of patients with COVID-19 at hospitals.
According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, intensive care units (ICUs) at 14 of the 21 Metro Manila hospitals are at critical level regarding the number of COVID-19 cases. Taking into account that 40 percent of patients admitted in these hospitals are either asymptomatic or have mild cases of COVID, these patients can be transferred to the repurposed hotels where doctors and medical front liners could be assigned to care for them, Suntay proposes.
Suntay’s resolution is based on the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” which states that “under national emergency and when the public interest so requires, the State may temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest, subject to the limits enshrined in the Constitution under Article XII, Section 17.”
As a proposed health measure and to curb the infection rate in the Metro, Suntay hopes that his resolution will be acted upon immediately.
“We cannot deny that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is not only a major issue for public health, but for the country’s economic recovery as well. Hopefully, we can decide on this resolution quickly, and we will soon be able to alleviate some of COVID-19’s impacts, for our country and people’s sake,” Suntay concluded.