UNVACCINATED individuals in Central Visayas with moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms will now be prioritized for the designated isolation facilities and temporary treatment monitoring facilities.

This was what Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, chief pathologist of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH 7), said during her briefing at the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC) on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022.

As of Friday, Loreche said, private hospitals in Cebu have reached 25.2 percent capacity utilization rate out of 718 allocated Covid-19 beds.

This means, 181 patients have been admitted so far while there are 537 available Covid-19 beds.

Of the 652 regular Covid-19 beds, 174 were occupied by asymptomatic, mild, moderate and severe patients.

For the 66 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, Loreche said seven were occupied by critical patients.

“We have a lot of rooms and a lot of beds, [but] we do not want to fill this up,” she said, which is why they want home quarantine and home isolation for people who are asymptomatic, mild, or for those with moderate low risk.

Public hospitals

But public hospitals in Cebu, the chief pathologist said, have reached 64.8 percent capacity utilization.

Of 437 allocated Covid beds, Loreche said only 154 are currently available after 283 patients were admitted.

Of the 283 patients, 142 were asymptomatic or mild, 140 were moderate to severe, and only one patient was in the ICU.

Loreche acknowledged that there was a reduction in allocated Covid beds from last year since the number of Covid cases had not been significant for quite some time.

“Hangga’t maaari yung mga moderate, yung mga unvaccinated, yung nga walang sariling kwarto at walang makapagmonitor, sila po ang prayoridad ng ating mga (If possible, only those moderate patients, unvaccinated, and those with no isolation room and with no guardian or parent to monitor will be given priority in our) temporary treatment monitoring facilities (TTMF) and isolation facilities,” said Loreche, adding that some isolation facilities and TTMF were damaged during the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Rai) last Dec. 16.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes has also urged those who are manifesting Covid-like symptoms to isolate themselves and not panic easily.

Cortes earlier said this could free up the spaces of hospitals for other illnesses that also need attention.

Expanding bed allocation

But Loreche clarified that DOH 7 Director Jaime Bernadas assured that they can expand the allocation of beds should the need arise.

She reiterated that home isolation is now allowed provided that the equipment and other health protocols are complied.

With the rise of Covid-19 cases and the threat of the Omicron variant, Loreche said there is a need to adapt to the changing times.

Meanwhile, Nagiel Bañacia, head of the Lapu-Lapu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said positive patients who are fully vaccinated are not a concern for them, and so they allow them home isolation as well.

Despite the lack of water and power supply due to the damage to the facilities of utilities caused by the typhoon, Bañacia stressed they are not worried since they have a good monitoring system in the city.

“Positive patients but fully vaccinated are not a concern. They can have home isolation. No water or no lights, the circumstance is still okay for their homes are their comfort areas in their lives. We have been allowing home isolation ever since. We have a good monitoring system aided with a kit (pulse-ox and digital thermometer) and appropriate Covid medicines and doctor’s supervision,” he said.

Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), for his part, said the lack of power and water supply is part of their consideration when allowing the Covid patients to undergo home isolation. Garganera said it would be up to the EOC’s contact tracers to decide.

Alert Level 3

Loreche said the current Alert Level 3 classification of the cities of Mandaue and Cebu were based on the case trends, average daily attack rates and hospital rate utilization, among others.

On Jan. 13, Central Visayas logged 736 new cases, 359 of them attributed to Cebu City, 61 to Lapu-Lapu City, 73 to Mandaue City, and 165 to Cebu Province.

This brought the active cases in the whole Cebu to 2,550.