Doctors urge gov’t to impose ECQ in Bicol

By Mar S. Arguelles


Alarmed by the surging cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in Bicol during the past two months, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) in the region have urged the national Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to place under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon, including the cities of Legazpi, Naga, and Sorsogon.


In a joint letter signed on Monday, June 14, by officials of the two groups, the doctors appealed to Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to intercede in upgrading the quarantine classification in three mainland provinces including its cities where the spike in cases has been alarming.


Except for Albay province which has been placed by Gov. Al Francis Bichara under general community quarantine, all Bicol provinces had been placed by the IATF under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).


The letter stated that Año, as DILG secretary, can bring the request to fruition by asking the national IATF-IED to elevate the quarantine status of these areas to ECQ for at least two to four weeks, in order to allow medical health workers to fortify their ranks and properly treat those in most need.


The PMA-Bicol described the current Covid-19 situation in Bicol as “untenable” since it has a minimal number of referral hospitals: the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) here, Bicol Medical Center (BMC) in Naga City, and Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center (BRGHGMC) in Cabusao, Camarines Sur.


All three major referral hospitals are running out of beds and are operating at 100 percent utilization of their Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) and isolation beds, the PMA said.


Currently, an average of 183 cases daily are logged in Bicol with Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon being the top three provinces with the most cases.


The medical group also said another pressing issue that needs to be addressed is the high infection rate among health workers and front-liners, with some hospitals having to operate at 50 percent capacity as infection has decimated their staff and medical personnel.


All private hospitals in Bicol that admit Covid-19 cases are now in full capacity with a long queue of waitlisted patients for admissions.


The PMA-Bicol said if the situation is not addressed “we fear that what is happening in India may not be far behind”. (PNA)