Why Cebu City is under ECQ again

MANILA. A woman passes a sign as a police officer keeps watch at a checkpoint during an enhanced community quarantine aimed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus in the outskirts of Manila, Philippines on April 27, 2020. (AP)

(UPDATED) A high critical care utilization rate, a case doubling time of about one week and widespread transmission of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in 13 barangays are among the reasons for the escalation of quarantine restrictions in Cebu City, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Tuesday, June 16.

In his regular virtual press conference, Roque said Cebu City had 2,810 coronavirus infections as of June 14, the highest in terms of number of actual cases and cases per million among cities.

The city, which is considered the biggest economic hub in the Visayas, reverts to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for the period June 16 to June 30, 2020, after a two-week general community quarantine (GCQ) status.

Roque said case doubling rate has been computed at 6.63, which means that cases doubled in less than seven days.

Three out of four barangays, or 61 of Cebu City’s 80 barangays, have active coronavirus cases. Roque said 13 of these have been worst hit.

The transmission rate, or the average number of people infected by an infectious individual, is 1.3 which is higher than the national average of 1.07.

Testing positivity rate is 33 to 36 percent, Roque added. This means that one out of three individuals tested for the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, yields a positive result.

In terms of critical care utilization as of June 14, Roque showed the following:

  • Four out of five, or 45 percent, of mechanical ventilators are in use. There are 60 mechanical ventilators in Cebu City hospitals at present.
  • All 27 intensive care unit (ICU) beds currently assigned for Covid-19 patients are occupied.
  • Nine out of 10, or 90 percent, of isolation beds are occupied. There are 399 isolation beds in Cebu City hospitals at present.
  • Ninety-three (93) percent of the 133 ward beds in hospitals are being used.

Asked if he considered the case of Cebu City as alarming, Roque said it’s not since private hospitals in the city agreed to increase their critical care capacity during the two-day visit of National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr.

“Hindi naman po siguro nakakatakot na tuluyan ‘yan dahil pagdating naman po do’n sa critical care, bagama’t nasa 100 percent na nga yung kanilang critical care beds, eh pupuwede naman pong mag-allot ng mas marami pang critical care beds,” he said.

Hospital expansions

Chong Hua Hospital, considered the biggest private hospital in the city, committed on Sunday, June 14, to expand its capacity to accommodate Covid-19 patients.

In a statement, Chong Hua said it will expand its bed capacity by 300 percent and double ICU beds dedicated for Covid-19 patients.

At the same time, the hospital management appealed to all Cebu City residents to strictly observe preventive measures to reduce the infections.

To further our message of safety to the community, Chong Hua Hospital would also like to thank our partners, benefactors...

Posted by Chong Hua Hospital on Sunday, June 14, 2020

Covid-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms are referred to quarantine facilities in the city.

The Cebu Doctors University Hospital is also expanding by opening another pneumonia wing that will increase its capacity to accommodate Covid-19 patients by 200 percent.

In two weeks, a Covid-19 ward will also be opened for patients with mild and moderate symptoms.

These will be on top of the existing facilities for Covid-19 admissions, which include one pneumonia wing, two isolation centers and an entire floor.

The hospital has also put up its own reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) molecular laboratory. The facility has been inspected and is awaiting accreditation by the DOH.

Consultation services have also resumed at its Acute Respiratory Infection and Diarrhea Center, outpatient department and doctors’ clinics at the Medical Arts Buildings.

Appeal to government, public

Meanwhile, the Cebu Medical Society asked local government officials and fellow Cebuanos “not to downplay the veracity of this contagion.”

“We acknowledge the existence of other infectious diseases but in our lifetime, it is only Covid-19 that has wreaked havoc and brought the entire world to its knees and divested us of a sense of normalcy,” the group said in a statement issued Tuesday.

CMS, which has more than 3,000, described Cebu’s healthcare system as “exhausted and overwhelmed” because of an acceleration in cases of infection.

They sought “real-time accuracy and transparency of data reporting to the public” and asked the public to strictly adhere to preventive measures such as wearing a face mask, regular hand washing and maintaining physical distancing in public.

“We can only win this battle with strong leadership, accountability, empathy, self-discipline, self-respect and love of thy neighbor,” the group added.

Roque also said neighboring local government units may send medical professionals and ventilators to boost Cebu City’s healthcare system.

He said the situation needs to be contained because Cebu City is the gateway to the Visayas.

“Kung hindi po natin ma-contain ang pagkalat ng sakit na ‘to sa Cebu City, malaki po ang posibilidad na baka kumalat muli sa iba’t ibang parte ng Visayas at pati na po sa Luzon dahil gateway din po ng papunta ng Visayas galing Luzon ang Cebu,” he added.

Galvez Jr., in his report to President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night, said they were sending 20 donated ventilators and 6,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) to Cebu City Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Roque said Talisay City was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) because of its rising coronavirus cases.

In Central Visayas region, more than half of the critical care facilities are being used, as follows: 56 percent of 108 ventilators are in use; 56 percent of the 77 ICU beds are occupied; 57 percent of the 938 isolation beds are being used; and 57 percent of the 268 ward beds are in use.

Under ECQ, the highest level of community quarantine, public transport systems are suspended, businesses are closed except those engaged in essential goods and services, and everyone is required to stay at home, except essential personnel and frontliners in the battle against Covid-19. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)


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