Public urged: Consider telemedicine for mild COVID-19 cases instead of flocking to hospitals

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 4) — Those experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19 should consider availing of telemedicine services instead of rushing to hospitals to prevent another congestion, the Health Department advised on Tuesday.

Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire told CNN Philippines' The Source that anyone can avail of the government's telemedicine services in coordination with accredited providers so patients can manage their cases at home.

"What we have observed for these past days, people are flocking to emergency rooms. Kaya sinasabi ng mga ospital napupuno, dahil ang daming tao nagpapanic sila, nasa ER sila (That's why hospitals are saying that they are filling up, because so many people are panicking in the ER)," she said.

"If you are just feeling mild symptoms, we can do telemedicine," Vergeire said. "May mga doktor tayo dyan at ito ay may (We have doctors and this comes with a) Philhealth benefit package na ibibigay so it can be readily accessible to everybody."

Treatment czar Leopoldo Vega also told New Day that home isolation "is a very important intervention in terms of lowering or decreasing the transmission."

Both Vega and Vergeire said the government is helping hospitals stockpile medicines as well as increase beds and other equipment amid the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases.

Vergeire said that the country's hospital utilization rate is still below 50%, but a potential peak in COVID-19 cases is expected by the end of the month.

"What we would like to pursue further is to intensify our prevention, detection, and isolation for these positive patients and definitely also for the compliance of the minimum health standards for this is the only way that we can lessen the transmission, and we hope that the assumptions of three to four weeks from now won't be materialized," Vega also noted.

As stated in its website, the Department of Health has listed eight vetted third-party telemedicine service providers such as TelAventusMD, SeeYouDoc, MedCheck, TeliMed, and KonsultaMD, among others as of December 2021. Details are available here.

The Office of the Vice President's Bayanihan e-Konsulta program, its free teleconsultation initiative for outpatient cases, is also available via Messenger.