Fifty-four areas nationwide have exceeded the 70% mark of their health care utilization, prompting the health department to raise their alert level to Level 4, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday.

In a public briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that as the trend of cases went upward, many areas escalated from the lower levels to the higher ones. Level 3 has 39 areas, while Level 4 has 54. 

“Pataas pa rin po ang trend ng ating mga kaso. Marami na po ang na-escalate na natin from Alert Level 1 lang dati ay naging Alert Level 3 or Alert Level 4… Sa Alert Level 3 may 39 areas po tayo, and as I’ve said a while ago, we have 54 areas in Alert Level 4,” she said.

(Our cases continue to rise. We have already escalated many areas from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 3 or Alert Level 4…. In Alert Level 3, we have 39 areas, and as I’ve said a while ago, we have 54 areas in Alert Level 4.)

In Metro Manila, among the areas under Alert Level 4 are the cities of Las Piñas, Malabon, Makati, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, San Juan, Pateros, Quezon City, Taguig, and Valenzuela.

For the rest of the country, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Soccsksargen, are also on the highest alert.

Capacity expansion of hospitals is underway, according to Vergeire.

“We are now using covered courts; we are using function halls, conference rooms—kino-convert ho natin ‘yan para malagyan ng kama. Gumagamit po tayo ng modular hospitals, tents. Patuloy po ang pakikipag-ugnayan natin sa oxygen suppliers dito.”

(We are further expanding the capacity of our hospitals. We are now using covered courts, we are using function halls, conference rooms—we convert them for bed use. We also use modular hospitals and tents. We continue our communication with oxygen suppliers.”

The health department’s use of funds has been under scrutiny lately due to an annual report by the Commission on Audit (COA), which flagged the spendings for “deficiencies.” Dunston Chi Esquivel