BACOLOD City will receive an additional supply of protective gear, testing kits and other essentials in containing the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“I have brought the five thousand sets of PPEs (personal protective equipment) intended for Bacolod. As promised,” said Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, at a meeting with Bacolod City officials Wednesday, September 9.

Aside from 5,000 PPE sets, the NTF will also send 5,000 test kits, 4,000 KN95 masks, 4,000 surgical masks and one batch of automatic RNA extractor kits to Bacolod, Galvez added.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will also provide 10,000 masks for Bacolod.

DOH Assistant Secretary Charade Mercado-Grande said one polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine will be stationed at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) Molecular Bio-laboratory.

Galvez and his team met with Mayor Evelio Leonardia, other City officials and members of the Emergency Operations Center Task Force at the Bacolod City Government Center Wednesday to discuss “coordinated operations to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Joining Galvez were two of the four anti-Covid-19 czars designated by President Rodrigo Duterte: Baguio City Mayor Benjamin “Benjie” Magalong—Chief Tracing Czar, and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo “Bong” Vega— Chief Treatment Czar.

Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino also supervised the meetings. Other officials were Department of Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Emil Sadain, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Assistant Secretary Wilben Mayor, Lieutenant General Roberto Ancan, commander of AFP Central Command; and IATF-Visayas chief deputy implementer General Melquiades Feliciano.

During the meeting, city officials presented the Covid-19 Bacolod situationer and intervention strategy. According to Galvez, logistical efforts will primarily cover “where the center of gravity is.”

“Considering that most hospitals are in Bacolod, the people from the province will also be accommodated. It is also expected that Bacolod will get overwhelmed because it is the hub,” said Galvez.

Galvez said he is confident that the cases in Bacolod will decrease in no time, especially that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Major General (Retired) Melquiades Feliciano, chief implementer of IATF-Visayas, are commissioned to help the City.

The team of Cimatu and Feliciano successfully curbed the local spread of Covid-19 in Cebu City after having been deployed there earlier this year. Cebu City was once dubbed as the Covid-19 epicenter in the country.

“It’s not magic. It just happened that there is unification (in Cebu City),” Galvez said.

Meanwhile, simultaneous with the meeting of the EOC Task Force at the MassKara Hall was a seminar on contact tracing at the lobby.

Magalong addressed the around 170 participants, who are designated contact tracers of the City. The seminar was facilitated by the Bacolod City Health Office (CHO), in coordination with Magalong, Cebu City CHO and Cebu City Police Office.

Later in the evening, Magalong met with the mayor and City officials, CHO doctors and Bacolod City Police Office Director Colonel Henry Biñas, which lasted beyond midnight at the L’Fisher Hotel.

Harmonizing efforts

Galvez also stressed the importance of harmonizing Bacolod City’s efforts against Covid-19 with that of the Provincial Government.

The NTF head further informed that new guidelines now discourage home quarantine for asymptomatic or mild Covid-19 positive patients. These patients have to be moved to isolation facilities of the City.

In addressing the demand for more quarantine centers, Galvez told Councilor Novero, who heads the Quarantine Centers Action Team, “Give me a list of all the public schools that you would want to utilize; 50 percent of them can be used as quarantine facilities. Secretary Briones promised me that as long as there is a recommendation from me and Secretary Año, then it’s fine with her.”

The visit of the NTF and NIATF officials to Bacolod is to augment the City Government’s response against Covid-19 after Leonardia wrote President Rodrigo Duterte a letter appealing for urgent help to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

Malacañang then sent Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who also came to the city, IATF-Visayas chief implementer Major General (Retired) Melquiades Feliciano and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino.

The said national officials have advised the City to implement a strategy similar to what was successfully applied in Cebu City to combat Covid-19 by initially organizing an Emergency Operations Center, which shall undertake all the planning, operations and coordination to contain the spread of coronavirus.

This center has already been organized and is now operating 24/7 at the MassKara Hall of the Bacolod City Government Center.

Bacolod City officials who also attended the meeting were Councilors Cindy Rojas, chair of the Action Team on Non-OFW Returning Residents; Councilor Renecito Novero, chair of the Quarantine Centers Action Team; Councilor Israel Salanga, chair of the Action Team on Returning OFWs; Councilor Dindo Ramos, chair of the Economic Stimulus Team; and Councilor Lady Gles Pallen, president of Liga ng mga Barangay.

Joining them were EOC Executive Director and City Administrator Em Ang, Secretary to the Mayor Edward Joseph Cuansing, City Legal Officer Atty. Joselito Bayatan, City Health Officer Dr. Ma. Carmela Gensoli, and other department and office heads and executive assistants.

Other members of Galvez’s team were Director Ariel Valencia, LTC Francel Taborlupa, DOH director Gloria Balboa, NIATF consultant Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, Dr. Romeo Ong of DOH, Director Darwin Wee, SSgt. Stephanie Afuyog, LTC Clifford Basco, Catherine Cidro, Zed Fausto, Director Jana Gallardo, Florence Jay Manere, PLTC Maximo Sumeg-ang, Arlene Magalong, Roland Dayag, Francis Camarao, Jomar Tampoc, Shan-ry Roberts, and Samantha Hamada. (PR)