AS CORONAVIRUS infections continue to rise in Cebu City, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) prepares to reopen eight more public elementary schools as barangay isolation centers (BICs).
Four ambulances will also be added to the existing five ambulances being used by the EOC to address “alarming” delays in extracting patients from their homes and moving them to isolation centers.
“This is alarming because we already have a backlog in the extraction of patients,” Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, EOC deputy chief implementer, said Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.
He said the schools in Barangays Pardo, City Central and Guadalupe will be opened within the week.
Other schools were being identified in coordination with the Local School Board.
Garganera said they have sought permission from DepEd Cebu City Division Superintendent Rhea Mar Angtud, who was just waiting for the final list of schools.
“It’s better to be prepared, just in case the cases will continue to increase,” Garganera said.
He said 30 rooms from each school will be used for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients.
In January, elementary schools in Barangays Zapatera, Mabolo and Labangon were reopened as BICs to prevent home quarantine and ensure isolation of individuals who test positive for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
At the height of the epidemic in Cebu City in June to July 2020, a total of 52 BICs were operational.
These were gradually closed in August as the cases slowed down. In October, the BICs were shut down and the EOC started to bring all new Covid-19 patients to the New Normal Oasis for Adaptation and a Home (Noah) Complex.
Active cases in Cebu City more than doubled to 1,738 on Feb. 3 from 845 cases 11 days earlier on Jan. 23, based on the Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7) case bulletins.
Active cases breached 1,000 on Jan. 27. In just seven days until Feb. 2, active cases increased by 627, almost double the 336 additional active cases recorded in the previous seven-day period from Jan. 20 to 26.
Despite the acceleration in cases, utilization of Covid-19 beds in 15 healthcare facilities in the city remained low at 32 percent. There are a total of 907 beds dedicated for Covid-19 patients.
At the Bayanihan Cebu-International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) Field Center in IEC Convention Center Cebu (IC3), the number of occupied beds went up to 78 on Tuesday, Feb. 2, from zero in January.
There are a total of 130 beds in the IEC Field Center.
On Tuesday, five patients were declared as recoveries while three were admitted to the facility.
The Bayanihan Cebu, the group behind the facility, is seeking donations of bottled water. They also welcome cash donations.
For those who wish to donate, they may contact (+63) 956 009 6606; (+63) 955 622 3051 or send a message to email@example.com.
Another quarantine facility, located in the old campus of the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu along Gen. Maxilom Ave., is on standby. It will cater to Covid-19 patients when the IEC is filled to capacity.
Both facilties are designed to accommodate mild and moderate Covid-19 patients in a bid to decongest hospitals.
These are run and overseen by the Department of Health (DOH) 7.
Three hotels in the tri-cities of Cebu have also been converted into isolation facilities for asymptomatic Covid-19 patients. (See separate story on page 10.)
The EOC recorded 142 new Covid-19 cases in Cebu City on Feb. 2.
Around 60 percent of the active cases, or six out of 10, are close contacts of index patients, Garganera said.
He said this is good because this means that the EOC was able to contain transmission even before the test results were released.
“This is unlike the previous weeks, when new cases outnumbered close contacts. At least, we are able to contain it this time,” he said.
The new cases were detected after they had themselves tested for work or travel purposes.
On Wednesday, the DOH 7 reported 284 new cases, bringing the total active cases to 3,889, almost a year after the first Covid-19 patient was confirmed in Central Visayas.
Of the new cases, 128 were from Cebu City, 75 from Cebu Province, 40 from Lapu-Lapu City, 19 from Mandaue City, 16 from Negros Oriental, and six from Bohol.
Cebu City had the highest number of active cases at 1,738, followed by Negros Oriental at 742; Cebu Province, 666; Mandaue City, 379; Lapu-Lapu City, 309; Bohol, 50; and Siquijor, 5.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said young adults from 19 to 35 years old still comprised the biggest group, followed by middle-aged adults (36 to 55 years old) and adults 56 years and older.
However, she said they saw a rising trend in the number of patients from the pediatric age group (0 to 18 years) in January 2021.
For 2020, there were 2,280 cases, or 9.13 percent of the total cases, in the 0-18 age bracket; 10,080 cases, or 40.35 percent, among young adults (19-35 years old); 7,663 cases (30.68 percent) in the 36-55 years old group; and 4,958 cases (19.85 percent) in adults 56 years and older.
In January 2021 alone, there were 423 cases (9.74 percent) in the 0 to 18 age group who got sick; 1,870 (43.08 percent) among young adults; 1,295 (29.83 percent) cases in the middle-aged group; and 753 (17.35 percent) among older adults.
Meanwhile, Loreche said they have not received any updates from the Philippine Genome Center on the three samples that were sent for genome sequencing.
The samples were taken from travelers who came from countries covered by travel restrictions.
“No updates, but we presume they are negative. Otherwise, we would have received the reports already,” she said. (JJL / WBS)