Palace spokesperson, Secretary Harry Roque, said yesterday that temporary health workers may be sent to Negros Oriental and other areas in the country that are currently experiencing high cases of coronavirus disease 2019.
This, after two groups of medical doctors in the province issued individual statements on Sunday seeking stricter quarantine restriction as Covid-19 cases in Negros Oriental surged in the past weeks.
All of the regions are being monitored by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Department of Health, and quarantine classifications are being revisited monthly, with areas placed under higher or lower classification as needed, Roque said.
If there is a “pressing reason” to place an area under a higher quarantine classification, the government no longer has to wait for the next meeting of the IATF and that is what happened to Iloilo City, he added.
The DOH and IATF are keeping a tight watch on these places and apart from the declaration of higher quarantine classification, additional testing and vaccines may also be sent over.
Roque was in Dumaguete City for the Central Visayas regional peace and order council meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in attendance.
DOH Region 7 records show that Negros Oriental had the highest number of Covid cases on Sunday, and the surge in the past weeks has caused alarm among medical practitioners, who expressed fear that the “health system will collapse” as hospitals are already on the verge of their limits on isolation bed capacities.
The Philippine College of Physicians Negros Oriental chapter said, in a statement, that the province is now the “epicenter” of Covid-19 in Central Visayas, as cases steadily climbed to unprecedented numbers over the past several weeks.
The Negros Oriental Medical Society, said in a separate statement, that the province needs to act at the soonest time, fearing that the local health system would collapse as some hospitals have already reached full bed capacity for Covid-19 patients.
Aside from placing Negros Oriental under the Enhanced Community Quarantine status, the doctors are also calling for the reimposition of curfew hours and a halt to gatherings and socializing.
“We know that there is this rapid rise in cases more than the hospitals can handle. We know that we are losing precious lives. We know that we have so many critically ill and not enough resources. We only know the value of saving a life,” the NOMS added.
The PCP-Negros Oriental noted that the average daily attack rate of Negros Oriental is currently at 8.12, while the critical level is more than seven. It also asked the government to institute “a higher form of quarantine” and to speed up the administration of vaccines.
“We are calling on our local businesses to enforce stricter quarantine rules and have a heightened sense of social responsibility. We are pleading to our fellow Negrenses to be more cognizant of health practices and safety protocols,” the medical group added.
The latest report from the Provincial Health Office covering May 18 and 19 showed 204 new infections.
Gov. Roel Degamo is expected to issue an executive order addressing the concerns raised by the community on the spiraling cases of Covid-19 in Negros Oriental.
COVID HITS REMOLLO
Meanwhile, Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo announced through the official Facebook page of the city government yesterday that he tested positive for Covid-19.
He said he took the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test Sunday as a requirement for all those attending the national peace and order council meeting, presided over by Duterte in Dumaguete yesterday afternoon.
The Integrated Provincial Health Office informed the mayor Sunday evening of the positive test result.
“I remain asymptomatic and have isolated myself,” he said.
In his “physical absence”, the city government will continue with its regular functions although he will still be “working while in isolation”.
Remollo also called on the people to take the Covid-19 seriously amid calls from various sectors for stricter quarantine measures to curb the surge of infections in Negros Oriental, with Dumaguete having the highest number of cases.
“I fervently hope that this will serve as something to seriously reflect on, even to those who are religious in observing the basic protocols,” he said. “Covid-19 is, by far, the most treacherous of all viruses. It unwittingly strikes when one is in the company of friends, family, and co-workers.”*PNA