Social distancing: Yes or No

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The issue on whether social distancing is necessary or not has divided the National Inter Agency Task Force. For once, Health Sec. Francisco Duque stood pat saying decreasing the distance among commuters will increase death rate at 686 per day or 3,951 per year.

Duque and DILG Sec. Eduardo Año are for maintaining the standard distance of 1 meter in public transportation with the latter stressing that we cannot afford to go on a roller-coaster again that would result in the imposition of ECQ if cases will rise.

Those who are for reducing physical distancing to 0.75 meters are NIATF chair, Sec. Carlito Galvez, Transportation Sec. Art Tugade and Presidential Spokesperson, Harry Roque. Medical experts oppose this but Tugade even said there is a plan to further ease the distance to 0.3 meters in the coming weeks.

As in many of their policies, this one was apparently not consulted with the medical community, including Duque. But Roque said even if the Health chief was absent, he had representatives there who did not object to the idea.

My beef is more with Galvez who said that private cars are more prone to infection than public transportation, citing ventilation. It’s not in public transportation that infection is likely being spread but in households and work places, he said.

And this is the same person who recommended we be placed under MECQ and accordingly ban public transportation. Of course the main objective of the MECQ was to limit the movement of the people but all the same, if Galvez believes there is little fear of transmission in public transport, then why not lift the ban altogether?

Of course his boss also affirmed it by saying social distancing as a measure against infection is a fallacy and asked that he begin a visual presentation so he can better understand the logic or lack of it in imposing the 1-meter distance. Other things discussed are not worth your salt as it is again filled with nonsensical pronouncements.

Back home, we saw a drop to double digits of COVID-19 cases in the past two days and I hope that trend continues. Of course, there are still a lot of problems, including lack of hospital beds for COVID-19 despite the order to increase bed capacity.

A friend called me up Monday night if I know someone who can facilitate the admission of a positive patient to one of the hospitals here. Early that day, another friend called me to say his uncle and aunt, both expired from COVID-19 and never made it to the hospital because there were no spaces, they were told.

In the previous case, the patient early on refused hospitalization and opted to go on home quarantine (I presume this was before the no-home-quarantine policy was issued.) Her husband and son, though, were already admitted after showing symptoms.
Left alone in her residence, she is now showing symptoms which prompted other members of her family to have her hospitalized. I have no advice other than tell them to appeal to the hospital if she can be roomed-in with her husband or son as both are admitted.

This friend also called up a local official but was told that because of the no-home-quarantine policy, most positives who can afford hospitalization opt for admission rather than go to one of our quarantine facilities. While I do not agree to that idea, we cannot blame these patients after seeing the pictures circulating in social media of the conditions in our facilities, particularly the bathrooms.
But this is also quite serious and something that our officials and health department must look into because if we allow asymptomatics to take over the much needed hospital beds intended for moderate to severe cases, just because they cannot take the dismal conditions in the facilities, then we may just be facing a different health crisis.

Speaking of quarantine facilities, I got a reaction from my previous column where I mentioned why the “hush-hush” in showing the people that efforts are being undertaken by the city government with regards to establishing the much needed isolation facilities.

I missed reading the announcement last July 24 of the 32-bed isolation facility in Brgy. Ajilis and only knew about it when this paper posted the photo of that facility sent by Cong. Greg Gasataya. That facility is set to open end of this month and my source said that another 32-bed facility in that same site may be approved as well based on the request of Bacolod Mayor Bing Leonardia.

Then there is that report released by the city recently which talks about the MOA inked between the city government and DPWH to build 109 COVID facilities for Bacolod. I already inquired whether that is really 109 facilities or a 109-bed facility costing over P42 million. I guess it’s the latter although most news headlined it as 109 facilities. I didn’t get a reply but whether it’s 109 facilities or 109-beds, the more the merrier and it will ease the discomfort by leaps to be quarantined in these new facilities rather than in the existing facilities we have.*

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