Rise in Covid-19 cases in Bicol alarms DOH

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has expressed alarm over the increasing number of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases following the influx of thousands of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) returning home to the provinces in the region.

Dr. Ernie Vera, DOH-Bicol regional director, on Monday, July 6, said the Covid-19 cases could reach the thousand mark by the end of the third quarter of this year mainly due to the “Hatid Tulong” program aimed at sending home thousands of LSIs from Metro Manila and other regions.

He said in a phone interview that the local DOH Covid Tracker indicates an increasing trend of confirmed cases at the onset of the “Hatid Tulong” program.

He said based on the tracker forecast, the uptrend could reach 2,000 cases by September if the arriving LSIs will not undergo a Covid-19 test and other health procedures before they are allowed to travel.

“The trending showed that in March, we have recorded seven confirmed cases and only nearly

40 cases in June, and as of July 5, it recorded 77 active cases, a 57 percent increase due to the LSI influx,” Vera said.

He said since the start of the virus outbreak, “we recorded one case every two or three days, but due to the arrival of LSIs, these cases significantly increased as some of them were tested positive for Covid”.

DOH tracker showed that a total of 162 confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded from March 17 to July 5 in Bicol. Of these, 77 are active cases, 79 are recoveries, and six are deaths.

Among the 77 actives cases, 26 are admitted in government hospitals while 51 are in patient care centers.

The increasing number of coronavirus cases in Bicol prompted the local Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to ask the National IATF to suspend for a month the implementation of the “Hatid Tulong” program.

The suspension would allow the IATF to institute additional guidelines and health measures to prevent the escalation of Covid-19 cases.

Under the new local government-initiated guidelines, LSIs, upon their arrival at their designated drop points, should go directly to the quarantine facility in their respective areas, submit to a Covid-19 test and undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Vera said there are 119 beds for Covid-19 patients, 290 isolation beds, and 34 Intensive Care Units in public and private hospitals across Bicol.

Also, there are 23 mechanical ventilator machines available in 17 hospitals. (PNA)

Mass Rapid Tests were conducted on several hundreds of residents living in hard lockdown zones in Brgy. Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City. Photo below shows personnel of the provincial government of Camarines Sur undertake intensified border control to contain the dreaded Coronavirus disease 2019.

CEPPIO/jmts/rbmjr/mmec07082020 with photos from fb_ProvinceofCamSur