‘Spike not surge’ in COVID cases in Cebu City – officials
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu City ended the month of January with its number of new cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) increased by several folds compared to figures logged in December 2020.
Data from the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), compiled by CDN Digital, show that the city recorded a total of 1,122 new infections for the first month of 2021. It ended December 2020 with less than 150 cases.
Additional recoveries for January, on the other hand, only reached 430 while COVID-related mortalities stood at 11.
But for local officials, the uptick in new cases cannot be considered a ‘surge’ and would prefer to call this a ’spike’ in new infections.
“I believe the right term to be used is “spike”,” said Councilor Joel Garganera, who heads the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), the committee dedicated to addressing the COVID-19 outbreak here.
Garganera said that labelling the rise in new COVID-19 cases here as a surge is incorrect because this does not qualify to be called as such under the three parameters set by the Department of Health (DOH).
For it to be considered a “surge,” the three parameters – positivity rate, bed or critical care utilization rate, and contact tracing capacity – should reach alarming levels.
“Though Cebu City’s case is increasing, our hospital bed utilization is very safe. The threshold is 60 percent for safe occupancy and presently we are at 29 percent COVID-bed occupancy and only 19 percent for private facilities,” Garganera explained.
“Our contact tracing capacity is really very efficient, in fact, we even include second close-contact generation [in our contact tracing],” he added.
In earlier reports, Cebu City’s EOC admitted that they observed a 400 to 500 percent jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases during the first two weeks of January compared to the last two weeks of December 2020.
But officials, including those coming from DOH-7, continue to reassure the public that the outbreak has remained at manageable levels and that authorities are “more prepared than before” to respond to the spread of the infection.
The latest Philippine COVID-19 report from OCTA Research Group, dated January 30, 2021, stated that the city’s positivity rate has increased to 6 percent, based on the 2,400 tests processed per day.
The group, composed of Guido David, Ranjit Rye, Nicanor Austriaco, Ma Patricia Agbulos, Erwin Alampay, Eero Rosini Brillantes, Benjamin Co, Bernhard Egwolf, Franco Felizarta, Troy Gepte, Bryan Albert Lim, Rodrigo Angelo Ong, Michael Tee and Benjamin Vallejo Jr., pointed to Cebu City as the ‘primary driver’ in the increase of new COVID-19 cases in the entire island-province.
They added that the rapid transmission of the virus, if not addressed, could “lead to more than 150 new COVID-19 cases per day in two weeks.”
“It is very important for the citizens in Cebu City to strictly comply with health guidelines of their local government,” experts said.
Cebu City’s modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status has been extended until February 28, 2021. / dcb
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