‘Dance with the virus’

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Less than a week before the State of the Nation Address (SONA), I am wondering what drawing board the national government will come up with in touting their so-called accomplishments in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday’s pre-taped address by the president is another one for the books, inspired probably by US President Donald Trump’s idiotic response to disinfection. The president is now thinking of buying masks for everyone and re-using the same by disinfecting them with alcohol, Lysol if you can afford it, or by dipping your hands in gasoline if disinfectants are expensive.

It was in jest of course, for those who can see through his reckless remarks. But what about those who continue to believe every word he utters even in an incoherent state?

Six months into the pandemic, there is still nothing concrete from the national IATF except to boast of the plans of the new COVID ‘czars,’ Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong in effective contact tracing and DPWH Sec. Mark Villar in opening up evacuation centers and converting these into isolation facilities.

We have been hammering for the use of our own evac center here as quarantine facility but it fell on deaf ears. With the IATF’s announcement, will we finally see that open, or shall we continue to preserve its pristine look till it becomes another white elephant?
IATF chair, Sec. Carlito Galvez said that there are best practices worth emulating such as the Baguio who recorded zero infection in the last two weeks. Galvez also said many of our mayors “are not doing enough.” The nuance being, if there is continued spread of the virus, it is not them but the LGUs that ought to be blamed.

Galvez has not touched on other LGUs in the weekly unholy-hour briefing except Metro Manila where “Mega ERs” are being built and to strengthen intensive care units so that “even as we open up the economy, we can dance with the virus.”

In fact, the IATF even boasted that mass testing has now reached 27,000 per day and they are aiming to reach the 32,000 testing target in order to save at least 4,000 deaths. Hmm, that 32,000 was targeted way back April and we are now end of July.

Then you have Education Sec. Leonor Briones pushing again for the reopening of schools via limited face-to-face classes at least in MGCQ areas. If we keep on changing policies every month, how can schools prepare? Her justification is the low infection rates among children with only 2,800 cases out of 67,000 cases and ONLY 16 recorded deaths. That statement just shows how this government value lives.

Everyone is expecting that COVID will be with us for the rest of the year at least until a vaccine can be found. We have to find a way to live through it and fend for ourselves since the leadership has nothing concrete to offer except to borrow money again to buy vaccines when it becomes available so “you can drink it.”

Right now, at the local level, health experts continue to dish out semantics in calling our local transmissions as “sporadic transmissions” which is less worrisome than community transmission. Yet, there are no explanations for some cases that have had no contact with carriers nor history of travel.

Then you have another group of doctors under the Philippine College of Physicians, Negros Occidental chapter who are pointing out the fact (that no one wants to admit) that we have many medical workers who are already infected and are calling the LGUs to bring us back to ECQ or GCQ status again.

Earlier, Riverside Medical Center already issued a statement that they will not anymore accept any patient manifesting COVID symptoms as they are already in “full capacity.” This was a bit alarming because if you look at the daily reporting of cases, many of those who tested positive are asymptomatic and in isolation facilities with very few admissions.

Following the DOH mandate for all hospitals to convert 30 percent of their bed capacity to COVID-19, how many admissions do we actually have in Bacolod and why are these not reported? Riverside to claim they are in full capacity must have over 30 or more cases of admission then?

The reason I am raising this issue is that in order not to overwhelm health facilities, COVID intended beds must only be used for severe to critical cases, while the rest must recuperate in isolation centers. The City Health Office must ensure that those admitted in RMC fit this profile, otherwise other hospitals will be inundated with cases. Be transparent.

A friend of mine who was recently operated in that hospital received a call from his surgeon asking him if he had himself tested for COVID. Fortunately, my friend had the initiative to go for testing the moment he got discharged after hearing stories of infections among staff and self-isolated himself until his negative results came out.

But what about the others? Should they just ‘dance’ with the virus?*

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October 2020
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