Malilong: The numbers are down but cannot relax

The Other Side

WE’RE on the second month of the MGCQ. Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella recommended its extension and everyone seems to agree that it is not time yet to lift all restrictions and shift to the promised new normal, whatever that is. Yes, the number of new cases reported by the Department of Health has reduced significantly but that there are new cases is a sobering reminder that the virus is still around.

A friend has referred me to a website that keeps track of new Covid-19 infections in the whole of Cebu. The website appears to be legitimate and the DOH7 which is attributed as the source of the reports has not disputed the numbers.

I tallied the number of new cases in Cebu, including the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Cebu, during a one-week period (September 24-30) and the results were still disturbing: 332 total or an average of 47 cases per day. More than half of the cases (200) were logged in the province, 53 were in Cebu City, 43 in Lapu-Lapu and 36 in Mandaue.

New cases in Cebu City were in single digits daily, except on September 24 (13) and September 30 (12). It follows the same pattern in the province where the highest (49) was on the first day of my tally and second (44) on the last day.

The numbers in Cebu City are much lower than what we had in July when as many as 300 cases were recorded on a single day. Note must be made, however, that the city had embarked on a massive testing campaign at that time. The number of testing centers in the city has risen since then but we are not sure if the number of people who have been tested has grown correspondingly.

I raise that because the other day, I was told that most of those who undergo testing these days are those who are required to do so by their employers or need the test results in order to travel. Contact tracing has also slackened, according to the same source. I hope this is not so. My own personal experience also tends to belie the claim.

Sometime in the middle of July, we noticed that our laundry woman, who lived in a house at the back of our residence, had a dry cough. We immediately placed her on isolation. When her condition worsened, we had her hospitalized. Unfortunately, she died in August. The test results said she had Covid.

Three or four days after her death, a team from the City Health Department came to swab us. The family had already been tested at a private laboratory while the other household members had theirs at a government center. Although the tests came out negative, we still had ourselves swabbed by the CHD team.

On the same day, someone from the barangay came to advise us to stay at home, which we did. The CHD tests also came out negative but we did not get the results until a week later and only because my wife sought the help of a fellow pathologist at the government laboratory.

The city health team visit happened because they had an effective contact tracing. It would be unfortunate if they are no longer doing it as aggressively now because the number of cases has declined. We should learn from the lesson of other countries who are now experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus invasion. If we don’t we’re stupid.


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