Patients wait outside a private hospital sidewalk and inside private cars connected to oxygen tanks in Cebu City for their turn to be admitted, as Covid beds were reportedly running out. (Romeo Marantal and Aldo Banaynal)

The Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) has closed a portion of Don Mariano Cui Street to give way to suspected Covid patients waiting to be admitted to a private hospital in the city.

The road closure stems from viral pictures of patients lying on beds placed on the sidewalk and private vehicles parked outside the emergency room (ER) connected to oxygen tanks.

Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, chairman of the city council’s committee of disaster risk reduction management, confirmed that the pictures were taken from a hospital in uptown Cebu.

He said the CCTO closed the road fronting the hospital ER to limit access to ambulances and medical frontliners attending to patients waiting for their turn.

Thirty one suspected Covid patients were queuing outside the hospital as of Sunday evening, most of whom were having difficulty breathing, he said.

In a recent press conference, Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, said Cebu province’s Covid-19 critical care utilization rate (CCUR) stood at 60% for intensive care, Covid, and isolation beds.

He said it was a “natural consequence” to see parked ambulances waiting outside hospital ERs because it would take time before patients are admitted. “If our ER is full, it doesn’t mean our hospital is full,” he said.

The director explained that aside from the routine triaging of patients, administrative processes and tests were done before admission.

He said government nurses have been deployed to private hospitals in Cebu so they could open additional Covid beds.

Bernadas said he suspected the recent increase of “severe” Covid infections and deaths to be due to the Delta variant.

“Based on initial analysis, there’s an increase of infections among family members and young patients experiencing severe symptoms. This can be correlated (to the Delta variant) but that’s just our suspicion,” he said in a mix of English and Cebuano. – Ryan Sorote