FEW days after the Octa Research Group tagged Bacolod as an “area of concern” outside Metro Manila due to spike in the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) during the past week, the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is seeing a declining trend in the number of new infections.
Based on the May 8, 2021 report of Octa, the city logged a 19 percent daily average increase rate from May 1 to 7.
The Negros Occidental capital city has a daily attack rate of 13.38 percent, hospital occupancy rate of 50 percent, and ICU beds occupancy rate of 49 percent.
Bacolod City EOC Deputy for Medical Data and Analysis Dr. Chris Sorongon, however, said the figure is already declining, particularly the new confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH)-Western Visayas, Sorongon said the city logged 37 additional cases on May 8, 43 on May 9, and 23 on May 10.
Though the recent report of Octa is not a cause for alarm, there is a need to remain vigilant rather than being complacent, he said, adding that “for the past two 14-day cycles, we have been implementing a lot of mitigating measures.”
Sorongon added that “though Octa’s data is a bit late as ours is already declining, we are appreciative of the research group because, what we are seeing, it also tells us how to interpret and it helps us on the analysis of our cases.”
The EOC official said Mayor Evelio Leonardia has ordered to strengthen the prevention, detection, treatment, isolation, and reintegration (PDTIR) strategy in order to continuously lower the cases.
Sorongon said the City Government has started to further strengthen its prevention measures since the Holy Week, specifically closing all resorts on Easter Sunday, which could have been a “super spreader” event.
Sorongon said the mayor has also been conducting virtual meetings with various sectoral groups, informing them of the vaccination program and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The local government was also able to arrest the spread of infections among the members of the “Oplan Sita” including personnel of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) and those at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BMJMP) through the surveillance testing, the official added.
In terms of detection, enhanced testing is being sustained in the city.
“All close contacts are being swabbed and targeted surveillance testing continues,” he said, adding that more isolation facilities including those in schools and hotels have been opened up on top of the midway referral facility already functional as a “step down” facility.
Contact tracing has also been enhanced with augmentation from the Philippine Army, Bureau of Fire Protection, and BCPO.
Sorongon said contact tracers are working 24/7 especially in extracting Covid positive patients as the city implements “No Home Isolation” protocol.
“As we fight this pandemic, we also have to treat and analyze data sensitively,” he stressed.
Sorongon said there have been many positive results yielded among private molecular laboratories.
“But, we have a strategy that these laboratories should immediately submit the list of Covid positive patients. We then send this list to the barangay so the patient and all his contacts are prevented from going out of their houses to prevent possible transmission,” he said.
In order to sustain its vaccination efforts, the city has expanded its mass vaccination from SM City Bacolod to Ayala Malls Capitol Central.
Sorongon said the city is expecting about 20,000 doses by next week “so we are opening at least 25 more vaccination centers and because we need to give the vaccines in six days period based on the mandate of DOH-6.”
He recalled that the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the city, starting middle of March, is attributed to authorized persons outside residence (Apors) who traveled by boat without being required for a swab test.
But what have become “super spreaders” are those who attended cockfights in other towns and cities in the province as well as parties and other social gatherings.
“We became complacent, we have to admit it. We have minimal cases in December, January, and February so residents roamed around. But when the cases suddenly spiked, there’s also a lesser number of people moving around,” Sorongon said.
Aside from curfew and liquor ban implementation, the local government has been encouraging public and private establishments to implement 30 percent capacity and skeletal or alternate working arrangements.
Other than these, no additional restrictions were implemented in the city so far.
Meanwhile, the EOC is meeting officials of molecular laboratories in the city today, May 11, to discuss the possible presence of other Covid-19 variants in Bacolod.
The city wants to clarify if these laboratories have already sent specimens for genome sequencing to the Philippine Genome Center in Metro Manila.
Sorongon pointed out that it is the molecular laboratories that determine which specimen should be sent for genome sequencing based on the protocol issued by the center.
“For now, based on our analysis, we are considering the P3 variant which is Philippine-based and discovered in Central Visayas. It is highly contagious, transmissible, and affects even children,” he said, adding that “relatively, this is the profile that we are having right now in Bacolod City.”
With the cooperation from the public, the EOC official projects that the new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the city will continue to go down.
“Hopefully, we will continue to have a downward trend,” he added.
As of Monday, May 10, Bacolod City still has 946 active cases based on the bulletin of DOH-Western Visayas.
These form part of the 8,042 total confirmed cases. Of the number, 6,875 have recovered and 221 died.