Under 21 Covid patients rising

THE Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas said there has been an increase in the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients who are under 21 years old in hospitals.

DOH 7 Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas did not give the exact figures, but the Covid-19 tracker in Central Visayas shows that 14.07 percent of the cumulative confirmed cases in the region as of July 27 are under 21 years old.

In this age group, 403 patients are under one year old, 3,819 are between 1 and 10 years old, and 7,685 patients are between 11 and 20 years old.

“One to two percent (of young patients) develop severe infection and possibly require respiratory support,” Bernadas said on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

He denied allegations that cases are being underreported in the region.

“Underreporting? That’s unfair. Our LGUs (local government units) are active in surveillance and contact tracing. We report all that is submitted sa tests. There is no underreporting,” Bernadas said.

Speculations of underreporting were made after photos showing a line of ambulances outside emergency rooms of various hospitals in Cebu circulated on Facebook, a development that Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes confirmed.

Cortes said some of his friends and relatives waited for hours just to get accommodated in hospitals. He did not identify his friends and relatives, nor the hospitals.

Bernadas assured that government hospitals have designated more than 30 percent of their beds for Covid-19 patients while private hospitals have complied with the mandatory 20 percent allocation.

“They are expanding more because of the surge so we are continuously deploying our nurses to private hospitals. We are continuously hiring nurses now,” he added.


Three major private hospitals in Cebu City are already “full to the brim,” according to Dr. Peter Mancao, deputy task force leader of Cebu City Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout.

“If you go around, at least in three major hospitals, they are all full. The emergency rooms are all full,” Mancao said in a press conference Wednesday.

He was referring to Covid-19 bed occupancy. He also blamed the shortage in hospital beds on the lack of medical workers.

Mancao said ambulance services providers no longer take calls, unless the patient has a previous reservation or already has a waiting number.

He said hospitals are back to implementing a priority scheme, in which patients are given a number before they are attended to in the emergency rooms.

Most of those admitted have moderate symptoms, such as difficulty in breathing.

Mancao said some hospitals were converting regular wards to accommodate Covid-19 patients.

Government data, however, show that there are still available Covid-19 beds in Cebu City and in the Central Visayas region.

Records of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) show that in 15 hospitals in Cebu City, 57.4 percent of the 925 beds dedicated for Covid-19 patients are occupied.

Critical care occupancy of less than 60 percent is still considered in the safe zone, according to the DOH.

In Central Visayas region, the DOH 7 said 441 are occupied out of the 840 Covid ward beds in all the infirmaries, level 1, 2, and 3 hospitals.

Of the 1,701 total isolation beds from infirmaries, level 1, 2, and 3 hospitals in the region, 986 are currently in use.

At the intensive care units (ICU), 91 of the 162 Covid beds are occupied in all level 1, 2, and 3 hospitals in the region.

As of July 27, records of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases showed that 530 Covid patients were admitted in private hospitals in Cebu.

More than a third, 203 or 38.3 percent, indicated their address in Cebu Province, while 183 or 34.5 percent declared themselves as Cebu City residents.

The remaining 144 Covid patients are from Lapu-Lapu City (99 patients), Mandaue City (38 patients) and outside Cebu (7 patients).

Holding areas

Cebu City Acting Mayor Michael Rama said there is no confirmed Covid-19 case with the highly contagious Delta variant in the city yet.

“Let’s not wait for the health officials to declare that the variant is here. We just have to presume,” he said.

He said he directed Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) administrator Yvonne Cania to expand the Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) to 300 beds from the current 160 so it could serve as a holding area.

Cebu City Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr. has been tasked to prepare the Cebu City Sports Center as a step-down facility with 150 beds from the New Normal Oasis for Adaptation and a Home (Noah) Complex at the South Road Properties (SRP).

Work on the first three floors of the Cebu City Medical Center was also being fast-tracked.

Cebu City Health Department (CHD) officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones said the City has reactivated two cluster clinics where residents with influenza-like illness (ILI) can go to for checkup and a swab test.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), meanwhile, is using container vans to house Covid-19 patients with moderate to severe symptoms with the assistance of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).

Mandaue City

Mayor Jonas Cortes directed the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) and the 27 barangays to intensify enforcement of minimum health protocols as he noticed that the residents were getting complacent.

Some do not properly wear their face masks and some children under 15 years old still play outside their homes.

“My marching order is to remove the basketball courts in the barangays because the residents are already complacent,” Cortes told the local police and the barangay officials in the afternoon of July 27.

Mandaue City had 749 active Covid-19 cases as of July 27, almost thrice the 250 active cases a month ago on June 27.

EO 22 series of 2021 reimposed the liquor ban, stricter border controls, prohibition of non-essential gatherings and implementation of a new curfew period from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. the next day.

Cortes, meanwhile, said they were expanding the Norkis Park Isolation Center, which currently hosts 69 patients, and tapping the Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School (MCCNHS) to accommodate more Covid-19 patients.

The former north bus terminal is still operational with 120 beds, five of which are occupied.

Two floors of a new four-story building at the MCCNHS will be used as an isolation center, with 32 beds. Work will be completed on July 31.

Marivic Cabigas, head of Department of Government Services, said they were simultaneously constructing isolation rooms at the school gym to be used for 12 persons with disabilities (PWD) who are positive for Covid-19. These are targeted to be completed in 15 days.

Cebu Province

In Talisay City, Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. ordered the police to strictly implement the curfew and remind residents to wear face masks and face shields, avoid crowds and observe physical distancing.

He said the police and traffic enforcers are jointly monitoring public utility vehicles to apprehend drivers whose passengers do not observe Covid-19 protocols.

Gullas reminded his constituents, especially senior citizens, to get the vaccine against Covid-19. There are three vaccination sites in the city.

As of Monday, July 26, the number of active Covid-19 cases in Talisay City has reached 217.

In Moalboal, Mayor Paz Rozgoni has issued an EO reimposing a liquor ban and prohibiting public events.

Out of Moalboal’s 122 total Covid-19 cases, 33 are active cases.

In her EO 26, Rozgoni warned violators could face hefty fines of up to P50,000, as well as jail time.

In Borbon, Mayor Noel Dotillos has issued an EO implementing curfew hours and temporarily prohibiting visitors in tourist destinations.

Children 15 years old and under, those with preexisting conditions and pregnant women are also barred from going out of their homes under EO 5, which Dotillos issued on July 27.

He also prohibited public gatherings and encouraged his constituents to only conduct “virtual gatherings” for the meantime.

The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), for its part, reminded its members, employees and families to be more vigilant, conscientiously practice health protocols in the workplace, public spaces and at home, and get the vaccine. (WBS, JJL, KFD, JKV, ANV, JOB)