Gov’t considers Cebu City as the new COVID-19 epicenter

Marje Pelayo   •   June 30, 2020   •   204

MANILA, Philippines — Confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu City have reached more than 3,500, the highest among all highly urbanized areas in the country. 

For this reason, the National Task Force against COVID-19 now considers it the new epicenter of the infectious respiratory disease. 

Specifically, Cebu City recorded the highest number of active cases and critical and severe COVID-19 patients. 

The national government has admitted that the situation in Cebu City is alarming. 

“Ang pinakamain focal point po natin is Cebu City, considering the parameters and thresholds. The new cases are increasing, even surpassing the whole NCR,” noted Task Force Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez.

The cases of death ay mataas din po. Ang tinatawag na recoveries, malakas rin po pero ang kanilang level 3 hospitals are very limited, ” he added.

Galvez cited the city’s leniency in implementing protocols under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) during the early months of the outbreak.

For now, authorities have no other choice but to extend and enforce strict quarantine measures to improve the situation through the collaborative efforts of the military, the police and the local government units. 

Currently, a total of 19 barangays in Cebu City are under hard lockdown.

Nakikita naming kailangan pa ng stringent restrictions kasi na-find out namin, nung nag-ECQ sila hindi ito properly implemented, ” Galvez said. 

“That’s why it prompted the deployment of more forces to Cebu City,” Galvez said. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Cebu City hospitals in critical level amid surge of COVID-19 cases – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Some hospitals in Cebu City are already in critical level amid the surge of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a televised press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Cebu City’s overall health capacity has reached a critical point as many hospitals in the city are already swamped with patients.

“They’ve reached about 80 percent and even more—80 percent last week, pero napababa nila iyon nung nag meeting kami nung Sunday. Parang bumaba ng konti, although nasa critical level pa rin,” Vergeire said.

“So, ngayon pag nakakita tayo ng ganito, binabantayan kaya nga ang decision sa kanila they continue on with enhanced community quarantine,” she added.

The DOH official also noted there are only a few tertiary level hospitals in Cebu City and many are level one facilities that do not have intensive care units.

“’Yung iba pang malalaking ospital sa Cebu ay nandun na sa critical. Marami nang naka-admit, pati mechanical ventilators nila marami na ring gumagamit,” she said.

She cited Chong Hua Hospital, as an example, which is already occupied by 98 percent.

She said that aside from taking care of over 200 COVID-19 patients, at least 238 of its health workers are also currently under quarantine.

Due to this, Vergeire said the DOH is facilitating the augmentation and deployment of additional health workers, including infectious disease consultants, nurses, and military doctors, to Cebu Province to help attend to the burgeoning number of virus-infected patients. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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Deployment of Barrio Doctors to Cebu City now voluntary – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   June 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has changed its decision of mandatory deployment of barrio doctors to Cebu City, the new epicenter of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), following opposition to its planned augmentation of healthcare workers to the city.

On Monday (June 30), the DOH Region 6 in Western Visayas issued an order temporarily suspending the deployment of 40 rural doctors to the virus-stricken city.

 The Regional Office maintained it will not lift the suspension unless concerns and issues raised by the healthcare workers and stakeholders are settled.

The DOH confirmed the action of its Regional Office in Western Visayas thus it decided to commission barrio doctors who will be sent to private hospitals in Cebu City on a voluntary basis after discussions with other DOH Regional Offices and hospital management in Western and Central Visayas. 

“Meron naman tayong ipapadala kaya lang hindi na iyong nailista namin na pangalan. Voluntary na iyong magiging proseso [We will be deploying a team but not those who we previously listed. The process will now be voluntary],” confirmed DOH Undersecretary and Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“So among all of these DTTBs (Doctors to the Barrios) who are willing and amenable to these types of arrangements they are the ones who are going to be deployed to Region 7,” she added.

The DOH clarified that the main tasks of the augmentation force do not include surgery and other critical care functions that are assigned to resident doctors in Cebu.

Hindi sila ilalagay sa mga areas na like operating rooms. Iyong mga may specialization na kailangan [They will not be assigned in areas like operating rooms but only those who have the needed specialization],” Vergeire explained.

“They would be supplemental to the Triage area. Sa mga outpatient units doon sila ilalagay [They will be assigned in the outpatient units],” she added.

Deployment of rural doctors or those under the ‘Doctor of the Barrios’ will be every two weeks.

They will be given two week rest every time they return to their localities to complete the required quarantine period. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DILG to issue show cause order vs. barangay execs over Cebu City street procession

Robie de Guzman   •   June 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday said it will issue a show cause order against barangay officials who are allegedly involved in the conduct of a street dance and procession in Barangay Basak San Nicolas in Cebu City despite the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he also directed the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to investigate and file charges against the organizers of the said event.

“We will not tolerate any violation of our quarantine protocols. Those responsible will be made to account. Hindi din naman tayo tumitigil sa pagpapaalala na napakalaki ng risk of transmission ng COVID-19 sa mass gathering and yet we see these kinds of activities and what makes it worse ay ang barangay na ito ay isang COVID-19 hot spot,” Año said.

“We will definitely get to the bottom of this. We have issued a show cause order against the officials who are involved in this blatant violation of the ECQ currently being implemented in Cebu City,” he added.

Año expressed his disappointment and frustration over the incident because the organizers still pushed for the event even if the said barangay is among the COVID-19 hotspots in the city.

Reports reaching the DILG stated that hundreds of people flocked to the street of Sitio Alumnos in Barangay Basak last June 27 to participate in a street dance and procession, which is in violation of the rules prohibiting mass gathering during community quarantine.

“We need people to practice discipline. They should know better dahil ang Cebu City ang may pinakamaraming kaso, dapat sila ang mas maingat,” the DILG chief said.

“We have nothing against the expression of devotion but in a time of crisis, kailangan mag-isip din naman tayo. Sa ganitong mga pagsuway mas maraming buhay tayong nilalagay sa kapahamakan. Disiplina Muna!” he added.

Barangay Basak San Nicolas is one of the 12 barangays in Cebu City placed under strict lockdown due to the high number of recorded COVID-19 cases based on the report of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Other barangays under lockdown include Sambag Dos; Kamputhaw; Sambag Uno; Mabolo; Guadalupe; Lahug; Duljo; Tinago; Tisa; Ermita; and Tejero.

According to the Department of Health, Cebu City has a total of 4,562 total cases as of June 28, 2020; of which 3,892 are active cases, 592 have recovered, and 78 died.

Año said that the DILG is expecting to hear the explanation of the involved local leaders on why no criminal and administrative cases should be filed against them.

The DILG chief also confirmed that a separate investigation on 21 barangay officials and individuals is also being conducted by the PNP-CIDG.

In a Facebook post, officials of the said barangay denied any involvement in the alleged mass gathering, saying that they did not authorize the conduct of the street dance and Sinulog procession but why they did not use their legal authority to stop the event from happening was not sufficiently explained.

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