(UPDATED) Fire broke out near the operating rooms of the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital (PGH) before dawn Sunday, May 16, 2021, prompting staff and responders to evacuate the patients.
The Manila Tondo Fire and Rescue Volunteer Inc., in a Facebook post, said the blaze erupted at around 1 a.m. Sunday. It was placed under control in about an hour. Fire out was declared at past 5 a.m. Sunday.
No casualties have been reported.
Urgent calls for industrial fans to dissipate the smoke and oxygen tanks for the patients were made early Sunday morning by the UP Office of the Student Regent and Tulong Kabataan, a relief and rehabilitation network initiated by the Kabataan Partylist.
Donations of water, face masks and food were also being accepted.
Photos posted by the Manila Tondo Fire and Rescue Volunteer showed smoke filling the hospital’s corridors as patients were evacuated and firefighters sought to contain the fire.
The Manila Public Information Office said 12 newborrns from PGH were transferred to the Sta. Ana Hospital.
“Sta. Ana Hospital receives 12 patients from Philippine General Hospital (PGH) after a fire hit the PGH operating room supply area,” it said in a Twitter post.
PGH spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario said the hospital will not accept admissions and its emergency room will be temporarily closed.
"Pakiusap po muna, sarado ang PGH ng pag-admit ng kahit ano... Sarado ang ER ng PGH starting today," Del Rosario said in a radio interview.
“Kasi po ang nangyari po marami po kaming pasyente na from the pay hospital na nilagay muna sa ER nandun sila kaya sarado po ang ER ng PGH starting today. Sana mabilis lang maaayos, siguro matagal na ang hanggang bukas. Sinisigurado lang na makakabalik din ang patients namin sa kanilang mga rooms,” he added.
The PGH is a government hospital that serves more than 500,000 patients a year, mostly indigent.
“Meron din kaming pay Covid, ‘yung charity na Covid hindi naapektuhan. Covid na pay patients, they have to be evacuated at nilagay namin sila sa either kung sila ay nasa ICU nilagay namin sila sa charity ward kasi may ICU set-up doon. ‘Yung iba naman po nilipat sa emergency room ng OB ang tawag po namin doon OB admitting section. We made sure sila ay hindi nakahalo sa non-Covid patients,” said Del Rosario.
As of May 15, PGH has 156 Covid-19 patients, including two suspect cases and three probable cases. The rest, or 151, are confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Citing accounts of witnesses, Del Rosario said the fire started at the operating room sterilization area, where linens were kept. This is adjacent to the operating rooms in the central block of the PGH’s pay hospital.
He said the staff’s attempt to douse the fire using the fire extinguisher failed.
Del Rosario said the fire was contained in ORSA but the smoke filled the hospital, affecting event the pediatric and nursery sections on the seventh floor. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)