Central Visayas reinforces measures as COVID cases continue to rise
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Local officials in Central Visayas are now reinforcing measures to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed as COVID-19 cases here continue to rise.
The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) on Monday, July 19, 2021, said the entire region is still experiencing an increase in the number of new infections.
But they assured that occupancy rates in hospitals here are still within safe levels, and that the region remained free from any confirmed cases of the more infectious Delta variant.
“Collectively, CCUR (critical care utilization rates) in the region are at 52 percent in terms of COVID bed occupancy. And our ICU (intensive care unit) is at 38 percent,” said Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH- 7 director, during Monday’s press briefer.
Not taking any chances, however, Bernadas said they decided to reopen at least two step-down facilities this week and expand government hospitals’ bed capacities up to 30 percent in order to further bring down occupancy rates.
“This is why we had a meeting with our hospitals earlier, and our government hospitals would be expanding (their bed capacities) to decongest and decrease our critical care utilization rates,” he explained.
There are at least seven Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility (TTMFs) built to house asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in Metro Cebu.
DOH-7 aims to reactivate and upgrade at least two TTMFs within this week so these can accommodate COVID-19 patients with mild to no symptoms, said Bernadas.
Data from the regional health office showed that for the past two weeks, there were double-digit increases in the number of new COVID infections in Cebu province, Cebu City, and Mandaue City at 87 percent, 61 percent, and 41 percent, respectively.
New cases of COVID-19 in Lapu-Lapu City, on the other hand, jumped by 101 percent within the same period.
Latest COVID-19 bulletin from DOH-7 showed that Cebu, as an island, has a total of 3,663 active cases as of Sunday, July 18 after DOH-7 logged 351 additional confirmed patients of COVID-19.
No Delta Variant
Meanwhile, Bernadas said the regional health office has sustained its bio-surveillance initiative to detect the presence of variants of concern in Central Visayas, including the Delta variant or also tagged as B.1.617.2.
A total of 978 swab samples from COVID-19 patients from the region were sent to the Philippine Genome Center to check if they were infected with the SARS-CoV-2 mutation that first surfaced in India earlier this year.
So far, 101 were returned and all tested negative of such variant.
Bernadas also said the government is looking for genome centers abroad to free up samples lining up for testing at the Philippine Genome Center, the country’s lone laboratory capable of doing genomic sequencing for viruses.
Central Visayas remains under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), the most relaxed form of community quarantine.
In the meantime, DOH-7 reiterated its calls for the public to continue following health protocols such as wearing face masks, observe physical distancing and avoid attending large gatherings to prevent the rapid spread of the infection.
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