IMPROVING testing capacity and contact tracing are among the measures the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) has brought to Western Visayas to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
OPAV has just completed the four-week visits to all six provinces of Western Visayas: Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Guimaras.
OPAV also personally delivered personal protective equipment (PPEs), masks, alcohol, and medicines to the six provinces for the protection of their frontliners against the SARS CoV2 virus.
Initially, OPAV headed by Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, visited the region to meet with local chief executives in the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo and the provinces of Negros Occidental and Iloilo.
The move was in response to a request of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio ‘Bing’ Leonardia asking for help in addressing the increase in COVID-19 in the city and upon the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Bong Go.
“Bacolod is part of my area of responsibility. The role of OPAV is to lower the response time between Malacanang and the Visayas,” said Secretary Dino.
“If you notice, pag may sulat si Mayor Bing, mag-uusap kami ng gabi, the following day, nagpadala agad kami ng tao through the help of the President and Senator Bong Go.”
The meetings with Mayor Leonardia, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose ‘Bong’ Lacson and Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor aimed to assess the needs, challenges and gaps in the anti-COVID efforts in these areas.
As a result of these initial meetings, OPAV sent Department of Health (DOH) 7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche and head medical technologist Prince Balaba to help enhance the testing capability of molecular laboratories in Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City and the DOH-run Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City, both in Negros Occidental and the rest of Western Visayas.
President Duterte and Senator Bong Go also sent IATF-EID chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez and retired Maj. Gen. Mel Feliciano as Visayas chief implementer of Covid-19 responses.
Secretary Dino emphasized the role of Gen. Feliciano who is the "man on the ground" for the Covid-19 response.
Feliciano shared the best practices of the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which has succeeded in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and bringing down the number of cases in the city.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, together with the Police Regional Office 7, also shared the best practices for contact tracing through a seminar.
On the other hand, Dr. Loreche shared the best practices of Cebu with the molecular laboratories in Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City and the DOH-run Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City, both in Negros Occidental.
Dr. Loreche, together with OPAV Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales and the rest of the DOH 7 and OPAV team, visited the said laboratories and made recommendations on how to increase the swab samples processing of the laboratory.
Meantime, 3,000 specimens were sent to Cebu for faster processing of the swab samples and address the backlog in the release of test results.
The DOH 7 Cebu Molecular Laboratory is now able to capable of processing swab samples due to the decreasing cases in Cebu.
Currently, the Project Balik Buhay (PBB) of Cebu is being adopted in Western Visayas.
Initiated by OPAV, together with the Department of Health, other government agencies, business sector organizations, and the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu, the PBB is a roadmap for the reopening of the economy by ensuring a safe workplace.
Aside from flattening the curve, the goal of government is to slowly open the economy amidst the continuing threat of Covid-19.PR