The Negros Oriental Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is identifying possible additional isolation facilities as hospital beds allocated for coronavirus disease 2019 patients are already full.
Assistant Provincial Health officer, Dr. Liland Estacion, said yesterday that they have already made arrangements with a hotel in Dumaguete City while also considering some dormitories as alternative isolation facilities for mild and moderate cases.
Estacion, the incident commander for Covid-19 of the provincial IATF, said only severe cases must be admitted in hospitals.
She declined to name the hotel that would accept suspect or confirmed asymptomatic Covid-19 cases, citing privacy reasons, but Estacion said the person who has to be quarantined will have to pay for his or her accommodation.
The move to find additional quarantine facilities came in the midst of a surge of cases in the province which, Estacion said is expected to continue to climb in the coming days or weeks.
She also appealed to the private hospitals to extend the number of Covid-19 isolation beds to accommodate more patients seeking medical care.
Meanwhile, Estacion said the regional director of the Department of Health in Region 7 asked all first generation contacts of positive Covid patients to undergo swab tests.
Local government units are advised to have quarantine facilities for those waiting for the swab test, she said.
Estacion said these are some of the new protocols to be imposed in Negros Oriental as the healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, as described by local doctors, because of the unprecedented spike in cases.
Meanwhile, the Dumaguete City government has been given by the DOH-7 a quota of 500 to 600 swab tests in the next two weeks for Covid-19 suspects and contacts “so that we can really get a clear picture of the status in this city”, she said.
The DOH-7 will send Universal Transport Medium kits to the Dumaguete LGU for the mass testing, the specimens of which shall be immediately sent to Cebu City, she added.
The provincial government is willing to assist the Dumaguete LGU in this endeavor, Estacion said.
Negros Oriental is now the “epicenter” of Covid cases in the Central Visayas region, with mounting calls from doctors and several other quarters for the re-imposition of a higher form of quarantine to stem the spread of the pathogen.
The director of the DOH 7 is not recommending Negros Oriental to be placed under the enhanced community quarantine status amid the continuing surge of Covid cases in the province.
Estacion said DOH-7 regional director, Dr. Jaime Bernadas, told her that the current situation in Negros Oriental does not yet warrant an ECQ.
“We have not yet reached our peak, and the cases will still rise in the coming days,” she said.
Estacion said that instead of an ECQ restriction, other steps are being taken in answer to the spike.
Also, the provincial IATF is finalizing a new executive order of Gov. Roel Degamo containing guidelines and restrictions to address the surge of Covid cases.
Estacion on Tuesday reported 240 new cases covering May 20 to 22 while 124 recoveries were also recorded during the period, based on results released by the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital Molecular Laboratory.
The total caseload of Negros Oriental, as of May 25, is 3,673, broken down into 2,760 recoveries, 823 active positive infections, and 90 deaths.*PNA