DOH-7 to Cebuanos: Prepare for ‘New Normal’
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Despite experiencing spikes in the number of new infections, the coronavirus outbreak in Metro Cebu remained manageable, local health officials said.
“Yes, there is a spike but it is still manageable since our LGUs (local government units) and barangays are on top of the situation, and we are active in surveillance,” said Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7).
While the slight rise of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases remained at manageable levels, Bernadas advised Cebuanos to prepare and start fully adopting the ‘new normal’ way of life if it meant preventing another surge and stricter quarantine measures.
“We should start looking forward to living with the virus. We cannot always rely on the subsidy of the government because it’s already been months,” Bernadas told reporters on Saturday, November 21, in a mix of English and Cebuano.
“Even if the cases will continually decline, let us remind mindful of our surroundings and always prepare ourselves how to learn to live with the virus… Let’s not go back to our ways before the pandemic happened,” he added.
The national government’s anti-coronavirus task force, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), earlier floated the creation of a new community quarantine classification called the ‘new normal’.
Their omnibus guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine states that “new normal” refers to the “emerging behaviors, situations, and minimum public health standards that will be institutionalized in common or routine practices and remain even after the pandemic while the disease is not totally eradicated through means such as widespread immunization.”
To recall, local officials, including those from DOH-7, however, were adamant to have Cebu City under the ‘New Normal’ classification soon, and they preferred to have the city remain under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until December.
RELATED STORY: EOC Czar: Cebu City not ready for ‘new normal’
“The way we see it, and from the surveillance we have seen, we will stay under MGCQ before we can proceed in transitioning to the New Normal — if and only if the public continues to observe minimum health standards,” said Bernadas.
From November 1 to November 21, data from DOH-7 showed that active COVID-19 cases in Cebu City, alone, jumped from 154 on November 1 to 351 on November 21.
It was an increase of around 128 percent.
Aside from Cebu City, other key cities here — Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu — also noted an increase in their daily number of new COVID-19 cases.
RELATED STORY: Lapu health officials expect rise in COVID-19 cases
Bernadas, however, assured the public that these incidents had not prompted the health care industry here to sound the alarm bells just yet.
“It is important to note our critical care utilization rate when we say the outbreak is still manageable. Currently, our hospitals have critical care utilization rates at around 20 to 26 percent,” said Bernadas.
“There’s a threshold to indicate when our hospitals will sound the alarm to intensify our measures against COVID-19. We have spikes in new cases, yes, but there are no spikes in admissions in our hospitals,” he added.
Critical care utilization rates of hospitals — one of the indicators used to determine the capacity of local or national healthcare system in addressing public health emergency — will reach dangerous or alarming levels when it goes beyond 70 percent. /dbs
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