IT MUST be an entirely different story on the ground to have a number of medical societies issuing statements, all of them with a tone of urgency and discontent, in the last few days—all of them in stark contrast to the confident tales that our local leaders project to the public.
Just recently, the Cebu Medical Society (CMS), a mother organization of over 3,000 members with eight sub-specialty groups, have released a public statement.
“We are experiencing an acceleration phase amidst an exhausted and overwhelmed health system,” the CMS said.
“Exhausted” and “overwhelmed” do not seem to bode well for the rather optimistic version that government wants to sell to rationalize the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the state into which Cebu City had been reverted to.
At the time this editorial is being written, Cebu City had already breached the 4,000 mark after the latest log of 201 newly confirmed Covid-19 cases on June 17, 2020. It now sits special as the only city stuck in ECQ with 4,015 cases, 1,980 of which are active. And yet, still and all, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella would rather highlight our recovery and mortality rates and doggedly pursue his appeal for higher authorities to cut the city some slack. There is pressure on multiple sides—business and the citizens who need to reclaim livelihood.
In contrast, the CMS in its statement said thus: “Relaxing the quarantine status does not make the virus disappear. In fact, it makes the general population most vulnerable to infection and propagation of Covid-19.”
“We gently recommend to our public officials and fellow Cebuanos not to downplay the veracity of this contagion...in our lifetime, it is only Covid-19 that has wreaked havoc and brought the entire world to its knees and divested us of a sense of normalcy,” the CMS said.
Department of Health Central Visayas had recorded 129 Covid-19 infections among health care workers. Twenty-seven percent of these are nurses, 21 percent are general services personnel, 12 percent are administrative support personnel and 12 percent are doctors. These numbers, however, are far from real, said frontline doctors. Records in one public hospital alone can beat the “official” figures, they said.
“From ground zero, we see with our very own eyes the burden and impact of this disease,” said the CMS.
While officials have assured the Cebu community that our health care facilities have been adequately expanded, including those in private hospitals, front line doctors see a grimmer scenario.
“Hospitals are overwhelmed and undermanned, essential medical equipment are scarce, doctors and nurses are getting sick and burnt out,” the CMS said in its statement.
The latest decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to drag the city back to ECQ must be the closest and most sensitive as a response to the doctors’ clamor, and not to the sunnier downplaying by local officials. No one can simply argue against those who are, in flesh, in a deadly skirmish with the virus.