ISOLATION facilities will be upgraded to serve as step-down facilities, temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMF) will be reactivated, and elective medical procedures will be put on hold.
These are among the measures that the Department of Health (DOH) 7 will take to prevent congestion in hospitals as cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) continue to increase in Cebu.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH 7 director, on Monday, July 19, 2021, said they will upgrade the 80-bed isolation facility built by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 at the South Road Properties (SRP) into a step-down facility that will cater to mild cases and patients recovering from the disease.
“It has already been reactivated, the TTMF of the DPWH. We will just upgrade it into a step-down facility by putting more equipment, establishing a mini-laboratory, setting up of x-ray facility,” he said.
“So, immediately we can do that in the DPWH facility. Basin ugma dayon sugod na na siya (maybe, we can do that tomorrow),” he added.
He also said they were reviewing the status of isolation facilities and TTMFs to determine which facilities are still in use.
The DPWH financed the construction of 11 isolation facilities for Covid-19 patients and off-site dormitories for medical frontliners last year.
Of these, seven new isolation facilities and quarantine centers are expected to add 301 beds for mild Covid-19 patients.
Bernadas also said they agreed during their recent meeting that beginning July 19, all elective surgery will be postponed to allow hospitals to prioritize emergency procedures and Covid-19 cases.
“This is temporary. It’s just to establish a free-flowing hospital emergency room,” he said.
Bernadas said Covid-19 cases are increasing in the region, especially in Bohol, Negros Oriental and Cebu.
As of July 19, Central Visayas had 9,311 active cases, consisting of 3,217 in Negros Oriental, 2,261 in Bohol, 1,484 in Cebu City, 1,250 in Cebu Province, 606 in Lapu-Lapu City, 461 in Mandaue City and 32 in Siquijor.
No Delta variant cases have been detected in the region. Of the 978 specimens sent to the Philippine Genome Center for whole genome sequencing, 70 were found positive for Theta (P.3), 18 for Alpha (B.1.1.7) and 13 for Beta (B.1.351).
The healthcare utilization rate in the region, however, remained within the safe zone, or less than 60 percent.
Only about 52 percent of regular Covid-19 beds were occupied while intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rate was only 38 percent.
In DOH hospitals, occupancy was also within “manageable levels,” Bernadas said.
He said DOH hospitals are expanding their capacities even before reaching critical levels.
Private hospitals, on the other hand, are being reminded to allocate 30 percent of their beds for Covid-19 patients.
He also said they were continually recruiting additional healthcare personnel to man the new facilities.
In Bohol, the Provincial Government announced on Monday that starting Aug. 1, all inbound travelers will be required to present a negative RT-PCR test result taken within 72 hours from the date of travel and the S-Pass travel coordination permit.
Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap, in his Executive Order 35 series of 2021, said as a means of ensuring that inbound travelers have with them the legitimate S-Pass travel coordination permit, the local government unit focal persons will submit the approved permit to the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force Secretariat for consolidation and endorsement to the shipping/airline companies and the Philippine Coast Guard.
In Cebu City, DPWH 7 Director Edgar Tabacon earlier said the P3.5 million evacuation center in Brgy. Apas will be temporarily converted into a quarantine facility with 52 beds.
Other facilities being eyed are the Women’s Center in Sitio Sudlon, Brgy. Lahug, Cebu City; the isolation facility for patients and dormitory for medical personnel at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport compound in Lapu-Lapu City; and the isolation facility in the Cebu North Bus Terminal compound in Brgy. Subangdaku, Mandaue City.
Nagiel Bañacia, head of the Lapu-Lapu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said the latest report of independent research group Octa Research about the rise in cases in Lapu-Lapu City is not a cause for alarm.
He said they were aggressively tracing contacts of each positive case.
But he also asked for the public’s cooperation and urged those experiencing flu-like symptoms to inform them or consult a doctor.
He said this should enable the CDRRMO to immediately conduct contact tracing and prevent further transmission.
He noted that most of the recent cases involve clusters of family members.
Bañacia said they have been continually reminding the residents to comply with the minimum public health standards such as wearing of face masks and face shields in public places, and observing physical distancing, even after they get vaccinated.
Free face masks are also being distributed to ensure that this protocol is followed.
“We will test and isolate those who have symptoms. If we can do this, the cases will reduce within a month,” Bañacia said.
In its July 11 to 17 report, Octa flagged Lapu-Lapu City for having one of the highest average daily cases, which increased to 50 from 31. (WBS, GCM)