CEBU, Philippines — The Department of Health in Central Visayas yesterday said that hospitals here are increasing the number of beds dedicated for COVID-19 patients after seeing an increase in admissions recently.
This developed as Dr. Jaime Bernadas, regional director of DOH-7, said there is no spike in COVID-19 cases in Cebu City although there was an increase in the number of symptomatic cases.
“Dili ni siya spike, increasing ang nakita nato.The (epidemic) curve remains the same. Ang spike kanang mokalit ug taas ug maayo (It’s not a spike; we observed an increasing number of symptomatic cases. A spike means a sharp increase), Bernadas said.
He said there was a backlog of the test specimens accumulated weeks before June1, the start of the general community quarantine.
Bernadas made this clarification during the virtual press conference with Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.; IATF-EID deputy chief implementer Secretary Vince Dizon; Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino and other government officials.
Bernadas said that hospitals have noted an increase in the symptomatic patients since they reduced the bed capacity for COVID during the lean period back in May.
Families of patients and medical practitioners themselves have vouched for the long queues for admissions at the hospitals.
The family of the late Pardo, Cebu City barangay chief Litang Abarquez, for instance, revealed being refused admission in at least four hospitals before being accommodated in a facility in Lapu-Lapu City.
Either the hospitals were not capacitated to handle COVID cases or were already full.
Abarquez’s daughter, Apple, wrote in a post that they began looking for a hospital for her mother at 7 a.m. of June 5 but were only able to find one in Lapu-Lapu, about 23 kilometers away from home, in the afternoon after being referred multiple times to other facilities to no avail. (Editor’s Note: There is no official confirmation yet as to the cause of Abarquez’s passing.)
A nurse at a private hospital in the city, speaking on conditions of anonymity, also told The FREEMAN that there have been pending stays at the emergency rooms because of the absence of vacant rooms for the patients, especially those suspected to have the virus.
But Bernadas is optimistic that hospitals may be decongested soon as the Bayanihan Field Center2 at the EIC3 in Barangay Mabolo and the Cebu City Quarantine Center at the North Reclamation Area are now functional.
Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Sec. Michael Dino said the national government will help fund the daily operations of these infirmaries.
IATF Chief commends Cebu
Meanwhile, no decision has been reached yet as to the status of Cebu after June 15 but Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez has welcomed the “aggressive” response of the local governments and hospitals here against COVID-19.
Though he said there is a good chance for the general community quarantine to be leveled down to modified GCQ then, Galvez explained it is not he alone who calls the shots.
“Depende pa sa aming evaluation. Mag-visit pa kami sa ibang hospitals bukas (today), at titingnan po natin kung ano ang kalalabasan ng ating tinatawag na inspection. Sa ngayon po, di pa po ako makapagsabi kung ano po ang mangyayari po sa ating classification. Napagkasunduan po namin sa IATF na si Presidente (Rodrigo Duterte) po ang magde-declare nito this coming Monday,” he said.
Galvez, deputy chief implementer Sec. Vince Dizon and a group of specialists are in Cebu to look into the situation here. The findings will be used in deciding on the status of Cebu after June 15.
At a press conference at the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Sec. Mike Dino, Galvez said IATF was alarmed by the spike in the coronavirus cases in Cebu as it shifted to GCQ at the start of June. However, these results have now been clarified as backlogs from last month.
Galvez said he was happy to note that the LGUs and hospitals here, both government and private, are working hand in hand to address the increase of cases, as well as the problems with hospital capacity.
“Nakita rin naman natin na maganda ang health care response lalo ng ating mga hospitals na nandito. Nakita naman natin na very aggressive ang mga hospitals dito,” he said.
Cebu Granular data ‘promising’
As for Cebu province’s request to shift to MGCQ from GCQ today or after June 15, Galvez said it’s still to be decided but that he is positive about the prospects.
“If you look at the granular data, nakikita po natin na ang provincial government, they are mostly in the green area. Ang nakikita natin mostly mga ang affected more or less eight barangays at three municipalities na under surveillance. So makikita po natin na malaki ang tsansa na maipasa sa IATF (from GCQ to MGCQ),” said Galvez.
On the botched move to allow backriding in the province, the IATF chief said this will still have to be studied further, especially after a prototype presented by a governor that provided enough protections between the driver and the backrider.
“Titignan po natin. This is a very critical decision to make kasi ang aim to prevent the transmission (of the virus),” he said.
In a separate development, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said that, as per protocol, the City Health Department is evaluating the situation in Mambaling before the lockdown there could be lifted.
“Mambaling is being assessed. It needs to be assessed. I have already directed the city health officer, because we cannot just lift without determining first if it is already safe. We have to protect the health and the life of the people,” said Labella.
Mambaling barangay councilor Anne Marie Vestil Palomo earlier asked Labella to address the concerns of the around 20,000 residents in 16 sitios affected by the lockdown who are “hungry and badly suffering.”
But Mambaling Barangay Captain Gines Abellana said yesterday that there is enough food provided to the residents.
“Regarding food naa ra. Karon nag-deliver mi sa remaining six sitios. Ang wala nalang natagai murag two more sitios nalang — Puntod and Lawis,” said Abellana.
Abellana said that he wrote Labella requesting to have the lockdown lifted.
“I have asked the mayor on May 27 to lift the lockdown kay it is not just difficult but tiresome for us to keep on preparing for the food of the 22,000 residents in Alaska,” he said.
Abellana said that the negative posts on social media about residents disobeying protocols contribute to the delay in the lifting. Thus, he urged his constituents to follow orders.
He added that vitamins and face masks were also distributed to Mambaling households.
Bernadas said that based on DOH monitoring, the number of COVID cases from Mambaling has become fewer recently.
“Ang atong tibuok barangay sa Mambaling had been declared a red zone. Unya naka-lockdown man gani na siya karon. Ato na dayon na siya hinay-hinayan sa pag-retest ang atong mga positive cases before. We are on the process of really coming up with a possible unlocking of the barangay,” said Bernadas.
“Kung moingon kang ang Mambaling duna pa’y community transmission, yes, duna gyud na’y community transmission diha, pero ato gyud na gi-monitor on a daily basis kung duna ba’y increases in the number or kung duna bay mga bag-ong kaso na makita didto,” the DOH-7 chief added. JMD (FREEMAN)