Editorial: Figures

THIS much we know from Press Secretary Harry Roque Jr. himself in his explanation on Cebu City’s reversion to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

In his virtual presser, Roque highlighted three barometers that inspired the decision: high critical care utilization rate, case doubling and widespread transmission.

Critical care utilization means the volume of cases confined in our hospitals’ intensive care units (ICU). According to Roque, all of 27 ICU beds in Cebu City are now occupied. This figure doesn’t quite reconcile with the Department of Health Central Visayas’ (DOH-CV) figure of 172 ICU beds dedicated to Covid-19 critical cases. The DOH-CV figure is the combined ICU capacities of five private hospitals and the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC). The Regional Development Council (RDC) has numbers on the Covid bed capacities in our hospitals as well. On its list are 73 ICU beds for Covid-19 cases: comprising of 24 (Chong Hua Group), 12 (Cebu Doctors Hospital Group), eight (Perpetual Succour Hospital), five (UC Med) and 24 (VSMMC).

Roque, in the same virtual presser, also said that 93 percent of 133 ward beds in Cebu City hospitals have already been filled. Again, it doesn’t sit well with the DOH-CV figures of 344 Covid beds out of 2,613 regular beds in four private and one public hospitals in Cebu City. The RDC figure, on the other hand, showed us a total of 504 regular Covid beds.

On barangay isolation centers (BICs), the RDC records 17 in the south district, 13 in the north, 13 in the mountain barangays. The privately-run Bayanihan IEC Field Center can accommodate 48, and the Sacred Heart School Ateneo de Cebu has 130. The occupancy rate in these facilities had only reached about 50 percent at the most.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) rates every city in isolation, meaning it only counts the health care capacity available within the territory. In which case, Talisay City, which only has one hospital, would certainly rate poorly in the IATF scoring.

Roque also mentioned Cebu City’s widespread transmission, saying three out of four barangays, or 61 of the 80 villages, have active Covid-19 cases. Thirteen of them have been worst hit. The transmission rate, or the average number of people infected by a positive individual, is 1.3, which is higher than the national average of 1.07.

The IATF only gets information from its regional counterpart, which is in turn probably also getting inputs from the city’s health office. But it’s the DOH regional office that gets ground data from our local hospitals.

Now that Cebu City is back to ECQ, it may help if it gives the public real-time information on how we’re faring on the barometers pointed out by the press secretary. That way, it may help fight misinformation. That should be one headache off our local officials.