Turning Metro Manila hotels into COVID facilities would only be the government’s last resort should hospitals and other medical facilities could no longer take COVID patients due to the continued rise in the numbers of cases, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Sunday.
In an interview over DZBB, Nograles said that President Rodrigo Duterte was not joking during his Talk to the People last Thursday night when he warned to seize hotels to bolster bed availability in the country amid a scarcity of available rooms for patients seeking medical attention.
Nograles said the takeover of hotels is legal since the country is under a state of a public health emergency.
“Actually, we have laws for that to backup that kind of move. That is already the last resort, so at present, our focus is to buildup the capacities of our hospitals both in public and private,” Nograles said.
Duterte said he would order the military and police to take over hotels if needed amid reports of patients dying outside hospital emergency rooms while waiting for admission.
Nograles expressed hope that the president would not need to come to such a point.
“We are confident that we will be able to do it. It really needs cooperation between the government and the private sector,” Nograles added.
He said that this is the reason why Duterte has ordered the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to facilitate the payments for public and private hospitals to provide capital for the establishment of more bed wards for COVID patients.
“This will ensure that the hospitals can increase the ICU (intensive care unit) and bed wards to accommodate more patients,” he said.