We have a friend who lives in Toronto. Two weeks ago, when a family member, who is a frontliner, was found positive for the coronavirus, the entire household was placed on quarantine for 14 days without anyone having to be swabbed and tested.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has adopted a similar policy in Cebu. A memorandum that she signed on Feb. 3 directed local government units (LGU) in the province to reject requests for RT-PCR testing of persons who do not show any symptom of the coronavirus even if they are suspected of having contracted the disease.
These persons should, however, be immediately quarantined and monitored for 14 days as provided in the guidelines issued by the Department of Health Memorandum No. 2020-512, Garcia said.
The immediate effect of the governor’s order is that it will ease the burden on the only two government laboratories that are performing the RT-PCR tests. Most, if not all, LGUs submit their specimen for processing at the Cebu TB Reference Laboratory (CTRL) or the VSMMC Subnational Laboratory (SNL). With the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, it will not be long before these two government laboratories will be tested to the limit.
The new policy will also result in a dramatic reduction in the number of new cases reported daily as well as in the count of active cases in the province. What is wrong with the daily bulletins issued by the Department of Health (DOH) is that they do not distinguish which persons who tested positive are sick and which ones are not. I understand that the DOH maintains a website that is more detailed, but it is not easily accessible to the public.
This omission paints an unnecessarily more dire picture of the state of the pandemic than it actually is in a particular locality. This is a legitimate concern for Garcia, who is trying to revive the tourist industry in the province. The other day, for example, the province logged 96 new cases, according to the DOH, without segregating the asymptomatic from the sick. Those who may have had plans of touring the towns will naturally have second thoughts of proceeding.
That is unless the would-be tourists are from Cebu City, where the numbers have been and continue to be far worse than in the province. The other day’s record of 249 new cases is the highest in recent months. Councilor Joel Garganera, who is the IATF deputy chief implementer for Covid-19 response in Cebu City, said the actual number was 255, sixty percent of which they found through contact tracing.
Garganera expressed optimism that the government response will eventually stem transmission of the disease. They are better prepared now than they were during the first few months of the pandemic when they, including the doctors, were still trying to make sense of the strange ailment.
“We now have the processes and the infrastructure,” Joel said on the phone yesterday morning. And we’re going to have the vaccines, which, he said, could be rolled out as early as next week. The vaccines are our strongest armor against Covid-19 and we should heed the experts who swear that they are safe instead of listening to quackery and superstition. (For full text, visit: www.sunstar.com.ph)