BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, stressed to officials of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental to disallow home quarantine for confirmed patients in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
Galvez arrived in Bacolod City yesterday for coordinated operations to stop the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the locality.
He was joined by Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong, chief tracing czar, Health Undersecretary Bong Vega, chief treatment czar, Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Emil Sadain, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Assistant Secretary Wilben Mayor, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Lt. Gen. Roberto Ancan, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command, IATF-Visayas chief deputy implementer Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, and other officials.
During the meeting with Bacolod City officials, led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Galvez said that to bring down the cases, the local government should focus on prevention, contact tracing, isolation, testing, and the no home quarantine policy, City Administrator Em Ang told the DAILY STAR last night.
Ang said that Galvez told them to extract all confirmed patients from their homes even if they are asymptomatic.
Health authorities have allowed home quarantine for asymptomatic patients who have their own rooms and bathrooms, she said.
But this time, even if they have no symptoms, they will be brought to the isolation facility, she added.
“This is because there is still a tendency that the virus could spread to the other family members even if the patient is isolated in the room,” she said.
She said there are patients who refused to be brought to the isolation facility because they have big houses and have their own room and bathroom. She added that a school converted into an isolation facility has minimal amenities.
Ang said that Galvez advised the city government to extract patients who have gone on home quarantine, that currently number to 488.
Upon hearing the figure, Galvez told them that “you should be concerned,” she said.
She said the city government will work on it, and that based on the city’s capacity, they are looking to extract less than 100 patients in a day.
She said they will prioritize the new cases, and work their way backward.
She added that, the other day, 42 of 43 newly-confirmed patients were immediately brought to isolation facilities.
Moreover, Ang said there is enough isolation facilities right now and that the turnover of swab test results is faster.
This is also because of the moratorium on the arrival of locally stranded individuals, and returning overseas Filipinos, she added.
However, she expressed concern that the hospitals in the city are overwhelmed as medical workers were also hit by the virus, and that there are others who had resigned.
She said the City Health Office and other hospitals continue to hire medical workers, but there were no applicants.
“There are available beds, the problem is the shortage of manpower,” she said.
She also said that the Department of Health recently provided additional nurses to hospitals, even the private ones.
Ang added that Galvez emphasized the need for people to cooperate and strictly observe health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
This is what they did in Cebu, which brought down the cases there, she added.
She said that Galvez assured them that the national government is willing to support the city logistically and to provide guidance in the fight against Covid-19.
Also, the national government, led by Magalong, conducted a seminar on contact tracing that was attended by 170 designated contact tracers of the city.
Bacolod City has 109 confirmed Covid patients yesterday, bringing the total number of cases to 2,165.
Based on the CHO report, the cases through local transmission continue to rise with 1,931, while cases from LSI and OFWs were only 234.
The DOH in Western Visayas also reported yesterday that the region has 250 new cases.
Of the number, 126 came from Negros Occidental.
Galvez also met with the provincial officials, led by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, and business leaders last night that was still ongoing as of this writing.*