HEALTH officials continue to remind the public that social gatherings such as birthday parties and reunions with a crowd of people in attendance can be a source of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) transmission.
“The fleeting joy and celebration that the public is hopeful about when they meet in social gatherings may cause a dreadful ending for others, especially the vulnerable groups,” said the Department of Health (DOH)-Eastern Visayas as the region logged its another highest ever recorded cases of Covid-19 in a single day since the pandemic started in 2020.
On Saturday, June 19, 2021, the region recorded a total of 606 new Covid-19 cases out of the 2,015 laboratory samples tested in four different laboratories.
The total number of new cases represents a 30.07 percent positivity rate, bringing the region’s total number of cases at 26,420 with 23,447 total recoveries and 363 deaths where 2,610 were considered active.
According to the regional health department, there is a trend of record-breaking number of reported daily cases in Eastern Visayas in the past two weeks.
“Surveillance has noted that that the death rate for this year is comparably higher than last year’s. Out of the 363 reported deaths, 209 or 57.58 percent happened only for this year. The region also listed 282 hotspot barangays or those with a total of 3 or more cases for the last two morbidity weeks,” said DOH-Eastern Visayas.
As this developed, the status of hospitals in the region is also affected.
As of June 18, the Eastern Visayas One Hospital Command Center (EV OHCC) reported that they have 76 total pending transactions.
“This gives an undeniable manifestation that the hospitals in the region are already at a critical level, especially the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC), the major Covid-19 referral hospital in the region,” the regional health department said.
While the government has intensified its vaccination activities, the health department also called on the public “to strictly and consistently adhere to the minimum public health standards to minimize the risk of exposure and infection.”
In Maasin City, Mayor Nacional Mercado reported that they had a meeting with the representatives from the Diocese of Maasin, along with the city and provincial officials from different law enforcement agencies and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), to discuss the strict implementation of health protocols particularly on religious mass gatherings “for the benevolent purpose of slowing down the rising cases of Covid-19 affliction as well as the morbidity rate in our province.”
“The City Government of Maasin stands behind all our frontliners for relentlessly working under these precarious circumstances just to make the ends meet. Thereby, we fervently urged the public to strictly adhere to our established Covid-19 infection-prevention and control measures,” Mercado said.
The mayor’s statement came after two incidents of alleged health protocol breach were reported during the priestly ordination on May 24, 2021 and first communion event on June 11, 2021 in the Our Lady of Assumption Parish Cathedral in the city.
However, Monsignor Oscar Cadayona, parish's executive pastor, issued an apology for the said incidents.
“I would like to emphasize that we have no intention to disrespect our LGU (local government unit) by not following the minimum health protocol mandated by them. There was no intention to betray the trust and confidence afforded to us by our parishioners,” Monsignor Cadayona said.
“We are painfully cognizant to the rising cases of Covid-19 in our community, that in our efforts to intensify our prayers by way of Catechisms and Evangelization so that this pandemic will end the soonest, there may be consequences of our actions that could have jeopardize our parishioners,” added the priest.
The priest thanked the city government “for the effort to meet us halfway, listened to our side, accepted our commitment to make amends, and provided us valuable inputs like their updated executive orders and ordinances that would guide us in the conduct of our future events.”
Earlier, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año directed all local chief executives “to strictly impose the prohibition or limitation of mass gatherings under the different community quarantine classifications to protect public health and safety or face sanctions for dereliction of duty.”
“Local government units have a critical role in enforcing mass gathering regulations as they are nearer to their constituencies compared to the national government. What LCEs can do is to adopt and implement guidelines and policies of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as well as enact necessary local policies to support these regulations,” said the secretary, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive.
In its June 17, 2021 report, DILG said they are investigating three more barangay captains across the country for alleged violations of the prohibition against mass gathering in their respective areas.
Año identified the barangay captains as Ireneo Cabahug of Barangay Matabungkay, Lian, Batangas; Bobby Daquioag of San Mariano, Sta. Marcela, Apayao; and Franklyn Ong of Kasambangan, Cebu City.
According to DILG, previous reports against local officials in connection to “super spreader events” in their respective areas “have already been referred to the Prosecutor’s Office.”
These reports include the recreational and resort operations in Barangay San Jose, Navotas City; Club Holic Bar & Restaurant at Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City; and the Bakas River incident in Barangay Matictic, Norzagaray, Bulacan.
DILG said that officials who were allegedly involved in the superspreader boxing incident at Barangays 181 and 182 in the City of Manila are now facing trial.
“A 60-day preventive suspension was also imposed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod on the barangay official who failed to monitor and prevent the mass gathering at Gubat sa Ciudad Resort, Barangay 171, Caloocan City on Mothers’ Day,” DILG reported.
The agency also cited a report from the Philippine National Police, saying a total of 67,609 quarantine violations were recorded in just one week.
“Of the 67,609 violations from June 7 to 13, 2021, 51,607 were on non-wearing of face masks, 426 on the conduct of mass gatherings, and 15,576 for failure to observe physical distancing,” the DILG said.
“Nais po nating paalalahanan ang ating mga kababayan na maging disiplinado at sumunod sa batas para masiguro ang inyong kaligtasan ng inyong mga pamilya at ng inyong mga mahal sa buhay,” said DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya.
Meanwhile, an alleged Covid-19 health protocol breach was recently reported in Palawan, after four government officials were said to have faced complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman following a city-led crowd-drawing event.
In a June 12, 2021 Philstar article, the officials were identified as Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucillo Bayron, Games and Amusement Board Chairman Abraham Mitra, and two other officials.
As of Saturday, the country’s total Covid-19 confirmed cases was at 1,353,220, with 1,270,243 recoveries, 23,538 fatalities, and 59,439 active cases. (SunStar Philippines)