Santander opts to impose MECQ as Covid cases rise

THE Municipality of Santander in Cebu’s southernmost tip has been voluntarily imposing modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) rules since Aug. 11, 2021, when 11 other towns and cities in the province were placed under more stringent restrictions.

Santander is bordered to the northeast by Oslob and to the northwest by Samboan. Both towns are among the 11 towns and cities under MECQ because of a sharp increase in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Mayor Marites “Monic” Buscato said she sought Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s permission to adopt the MECQ guidelines.

“I sought Gov’s permission to adopt MECQ because Oslob and Samboan are both under MECQ,” Buscato told SunStar Cebu.

She said active Covid-19 cases have also been rising in her town. Within just four days, active cases more than doubled to 49 on Aug. 9 from 23 on Aug. 6, data from the Santander Rural Health Unit (RHU) showed.

Over the last two weeks, active cases increased by 52 percent to 93 on Aug. 23 from 49 on Aug. 10.

There were 11 mortalities in Santander from July 15 to Aug. 23, bringing the town’s Covid-19 death toll to 19.

A total of 184 cases have been confirmed in the town since the pandemic started, 84 of which have been declared as recoveries.

Buscato said most of the 19 confirmed Covid-19 deaths were senior citizens.

Some of them did not seek consultation with the RHU immediately while some were brought to the hospital only when they started experiencing severe symptoms, she added.

One deceased senior citizen received only one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine while another, who had comorbidities, died two days after receiving the single-shot Janssen vaccine.

“He/She had an underlying medical condition. Two days after receiving the vaccine, he/she came down with fever,” Buscato said.

A vaccine recipient develops protection against Covid-19 two weeks after getting the complete dosage, experts said.

To encourage the residents to immediately report to the RHU as soon as Covid-19 symptoms manifest, Buscato said they have been conducting “recorida,” foot patrol and house-to-house visits.

“We want to know immediately if someone has symptoms so we can start treatment early, instead of waiting for the disease to progress. Some people don’t report to us and when they do, we can no longer help them,” she said.

Buscato said they have been providing those with flu-like symptoms medicines and vitamins. No swab or antigen test is conducted.

Santander has an isolation facility with 12 beds. This is not fully occupied yet as most of the infected individuals prefer home quarantine.

Despite this, Buscato said she will send within the week a letter requesting the Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu to allow the use of classrooms as temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.

Buscato assured that those under home quarantine were assessed and found to have met the conditions set by the government, such as the patient having his own room with toilet.

Some patients were extracted from their homes, which were found unsuitable for home quarantine. As a national policy, home quarantine is discouraged to prevent household transmission.

Aside from Santander, the town of San Fernando has also voluntarily imposed MECQ restrictions because it is between the City of Naga and Carcar City, which are both under MECQ.

Other local government units that are under MECQ until Aug. 31 are Argao, Sibonga, Minglanilla, Talisay City, Cordova, Consolacion and Liloan. (MVE)