Editorial: Caution, caution

·3 min read

DESPITE the climb in the figures, Department of Health (DOH) 7 chief pathologist and spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, said we could be expecting a decrease in Covid-19 cases in Central Visayas, the crucial driver of which is Cebu City.

Loreche said we are still catching up as far as contact tracing is concerned, especially on individuals exposed to the index cases. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC), says Loreche, is pushing its efforts as of the moment in some areas.

The numbers will reach a peak, and then eventually level off, the spokesperson said.

The official’s optimism seems to have exclusively considered the speed at which contact tracing is being carried out. However, it appears that the results have been revealing an unpleasant scenario.

The following day, Feb. 16, 2021, the EOC reported that two clustered clinics in Cebu City logged a positivity rate of 54.46 percent in the first two weeks of February 2021. These were from the Cebu Medical Society in Barangay Banilad and Sawang Calero.

The rate means one in every two persons tested turned out positive. Joel Garganera, EOC deputy chief implementer, said this is not a good sign, considering that in September 2020, the positivity rate was only 3.36 percent. The February rate is more than twice than that of the previous month, which was 21.31 percent.

“The cases now have reached a similar number as that of last year (May, June and July). But the outcomes are different. The hospitalization occupancy rate reached 85-95 percent last year while now we are at 34-45 percent. The mortality rate was three digits in the month of June (370) and July (167), while in January 2021 we have 13 and in February, we have 20 as of today (Feb. 16, 2021),” said Garganera.

There are notable details for optimism, but the hospitalization rate last year in the mentioned period may have been because the isolation centers were yet far from perfect. This year, we have reopened the isolation centers, including those in the barangays, thus the hospitalization rate of 34-45 percent may not appear too bright a prospect.

“At this point, we don’t know yet if we will have a bigger wave or it will plateau. The answer is really up to us. We in the EOC, Cebu City Government, ABC (Association of Barangay Councils) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) will continue what we’re tasked to do, which is to test, trace, isolate and strictly enforce minimum health protocols. Overall, the majority of the people are compliant, but it is in the private space where they lower their guard,” said Garganera.

The number of barangays in Cebu City that have no reported cases of Covid-19 is down to two, the DOH 7’s Feb. 13 report said. We’re again back to the delicate balance that we hope won’t tilt back to a lockdown while we’re trying to resuscitate the economy.