BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Forty-nine of the 61 barangays of Bacolod City have been declared free from coronavirus disease 2019 after no new cases have been recorded in these places, City Administrator Em Ang said yesterday.
Ang, who is also the Emergency Operations Center executive director, said this represents 80 percent of the total barangays of the city.
Declared Covid-free are barangays 1-25, 27-38, 40, 41, Alangilan, Alijis, Cabug, Felisa, Granada, Handumanan, Punta Taytay, Singcang-Airport, Sum-ag, and Villamonte.
EOC records showed that, as of Thursday, barangays Taculing, Bata, Mandalagan, Tangub, Mansilingan, Banago, Pahanocoy, Estefania, Vista Alegre, Montevista, 39, and 26 still have Covid cases.
Dr. Chris Sorongon, EOC deputy for medical data and analysis, said most of the new cases include authorized persons outside residence, locally stranded individuals, dialysis patients, and pregnant women, among others.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said that dealing with Covid in the past few months was such a challenging and unpredictable ride.
But Leonardia said the city officials are pleased to see that the figures of active Covid cases in Bacolod really went down and attributed this to the relentless efforts of the EOC members.
As national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, he said that “Bacolod has an advantage as we have direct lines with the important people who could help in the fight against Covid.”
Leonardia reminded the public that even with the vaccines, the fight is not over since Covid is still here hence, observance of health protocols should continue.
Dr. Hector Gayares, EOC deputy for medical, also reminded everybody to be cautious, adding, “We need to embrace the fact that observance of health protocols is already the new life that we have.”
Sorongon denied speculations that the reason why Covid cases in Bacolod dropped is that no more testing is being done.
He said the EOC maintains a testing average of 160 to 200 and sometimes 200 to 300 per day when there are no holidays.
As of Thursday, 49,092 individuals have been tested.
“Despite the decrease, we are still cautious with our utilization rates in different hospitals. As per latest data, we are already at 26 percent,” Sorongon said.
“We are still encouraging people not to be complacent and observe minimum health protocols,” he said.
He also reminded healthcare workers to take care and directly go home after duty, following a report that there were healthcare workers who tested positive after a short trip to an island resort in the province.
Sorongon added that more people with Covid symptoms visited the Bacolod Outpatient Respiratory Center at the Bacolod Youth and Sports Center lately.
The EOC encourages those with Covid symptoms to visit the center that is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. since testing there is free of charge.
Meanwhile, the Bacolod EOC suggested the inclusion of Russia and China to the list of countries with travel restrictions.
This is in addition to the 21 countries that the National Inter-Agency Task Force earlier listed in their travel ban, Sorongon said.
He said this is in the wake of the spread of a new variant of Covid that was first detected in the United Kingdom.
Reports earlier said the new strain triggered at least 60 percent of new infections in London alone and can rapidly transmit, compared to the current dominant strain.
Sorongon said that if Bacolod will open its doors to tourists and leisure travel, a more stringent measure should be implemented.
Based on the proposal of the EOC, returning residents and travelers from countries with travel restrictions should undergo 72 hours isolation, even with negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test results.
That is on top of the 14-day required quarantine in a facility and an additional seven-day home quarantine, Sorongon said.
He said those who are under home quarantine will be monitored by the barangay captains and barangay health emergency response teams.
Leonardia said he is set to release a consolidated travel guide for overseas Filipino workers, LSIs, and APORs.
There is also a proposal to submit an RT-PCR test taken 72 hours before the scheduled return of an LSI, instead of the current requirement of swabbing upon arrival.*with report from CGS