From houses and baragay isolation centers: IATF to transfer COVID patients

CEBU, Philippines —  COVID-19 patients in Cebu City who have been staying home or at the barangay isolation centers located right smack in the middle of populated areas will be transferred to a facility.

Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, yesterday revealed pushing through with the plan as part of containment measures against the coronavirus.

IATF Cebu overseer Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier suspected that patients under home quarantine may have been going out of their houses and their presence in BICs, which are located in peopled areas, only facilitated the virus’ fast transmission.

Galvez, in a virtual presser, agreed with Cimatu that there is something wrong in the implementation of the home quarantine in Cebu City.

“Nakikita natin na may mali sa implementation. Yung home quarantine na 1,900 (patients), pagka po nagkaroon tayo ng home quarantine, hindi po natin ma-control o totally ma-isolate po yung mga COVID cases,” he said.

Mayor Edgardo Labella has yet to comment on these findings.

Both Cimatu and Galvez also took note of the density of the barangays here that makes it harder for barangay or home isolation to work.

Galvez said the patients will be transferred from their homes and isolation centers to a facility dedicated for them. He added that the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways already has a site in mind, although other areas are also being eyed.

Searching for sites

DPWH District Engineer Florida Nuñez told The FREEMAN that they are still looking for possible sites to set up the structures while awaiting response from the Cebu City government on the matter.

Should the plan be carried out to reality, it will be the DPWH that will provide manpower and funds for construction.

Galvez said the Philippine Red Cross has donated 14 tents, which can be used in isolating asymptomatic patients.

“Kailangan pong gagawin talaga ito para yung ating mga cases ay mailagay sa isolation area. Kasi ang strategy ng isolation ay ito lang po ang magandang magaggawa natin para mahinto ang spread ng virus. So kailangan pa po na magkaroon tayo ng mga quarantine facilities,” he said.

Labella earlier said Galvez was impressed with Cebu City’s quarantine facilities, including the Bayanihan-SHS, Bayanihan Field Center-EIC and the Cebu City Quarantine Center. However, the IATF found these three infirmaries to be insufficient considering that they can only cater to mild and moderate cases.

The city does not presently have a facility for asymptomatic patients, except for the newly-opened NOAH Complex at the South Road Properties and the BICs.

Cimatu hopes the complex’s 330-bed capacity can be increased.


Aside from that, Galvez also noted that there is a problem with contact tracing.

“Mahina po ang contact tracing at 30 percent. So yung mga nai-infect ay hindi nakukuha, at the same time, nagkakaroon po kasi ng psychological stigma,” he said.

For instance, he said, there are those who may be in contact with a positive patient but do not tell the truth or are afraid of being tested positive as well.

“Yung tao na may contact, hindi po siya nagsasalita dahil ayaw po niyang magkaroon po ng COVID case dahil malakas po ang discrimination so yun ang isa sa nakikita nating dahilan,” said Galvez.

Silver Lining

Despite all this, the IATF feels that Cebu City’s situation is better now.

Galvez said the response is slowly becoming more organized and the health care workers’ morale boosted, thanks to the national government’s focus and commitment to help.

IATF officials also noted that Cebuanos are now observing protocols and guidelines under the enhanced community quarantine.

Galvez, though, still reminded everyone to do his or her part to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“People’s participation is very important in the fight against COVID,” he said.  JMD (FREEMAN)



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