EIGHT legislators from Cebu Province have released a joint statement demanding a retraction from infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Salvana for his published statement blaming the recent surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in Cebu on the Provincial Government’s “less stringent protocols.”
In a statement released on Aug. 16, Reps. Eduardo Gullas, Pablo John Garcia, Vincent Franco Frasco, Peter Calderon, Wilfredo Caminero, Janice Salimbangon, Emmarie Ouano and Sonny Lagon called out Salvana for his “irresponsible and misplaced statement that instigated unnecessary panic, anger, and fear among the Cebuanos.”
They accused Salvana, who attributed the spike in Covid-19 cases and the spread of the delta variant in Mindanao to the Provincial Government’s swab-upon-arrival policy for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), of forgetting that the spread of the variant may very well be from local transmissions of persons originating from Metro Manila and other provinces or from loopholes in the IATF-MEID’s (Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) protocols.
The representatives said that under the swab-upon-arrival policy introduced by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, OFWs and ROFs will be swabbed immediately upon their arrival and once a negative RT-PCR test result is released, they will be allowed to go home to continue the remainder of their quarantine.
They noted that after the double-swab policy was enforced, there was a steady decline in the number of active cases in Cebu from 1,057 on March 31, 2021 to 367 on May 30, 2021.
But shortly after flights were diverted to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from May 29, 2021 to June 12, 2021 when Cebu Province set aside its own policy and followed the IATF-MEID guidelines, Cebu experienced a spike in the number of active cases from just 429 on June 13, 2021 to 966 on July 11, 2021, with the highest being 3,733 active cases as of Aug. 12.
The Covid-19 delta variant was first detected in the Philippines (National Capital Region) on May 11, 2021. On July 16, 2021, the first local transmissions of the variant were detected in 11 samples from Northern Mindanao (6), Western Visayas (2), National Capital Region (2), and Central Luzon (1).
“We therefore admonish Dr. Edsel Salvana for issuing an irresponsible and misplaced statement and demand that he RETRACT the same. He is urged to practice restraint and be more circumspect with his actions especially those concerning Cebu and the Cebuanos,” the representatives said.
In a post on his Facebook account on Aug. 15, Salvana said everyone should help each other during this pandemic.
“I have no interest in pointing fingers. The reason we brought up border control was to protect people and slow down the entry of delta into the country,” he added.
In his Aug. 10 column “Clinical Matters,” Salvana said they had warned that if the delta variant got into Cebu “due to lax border control, a bad surge was forthcoming.”
“Delta is now in Cebu causing a large spike in cases, overwhelming their healthcare system. Some of the Delta outbreaks in Mindanao have been linked through whole genome analysis to returning Filipinos who entered through the Cebu airport. While it might have been impossible to completely stop Delta from coming in, it could have been further slowed down,” reads a portion of his column. (MVE)