Editorial: Still, utmost caution

·2 min read

In today’s new Covid-19 wave, we carry with us lessons from last year. Not only that, we have set the facilities ready to quickly isolate new cases. Likewise, we are also armed with the necessary know-how to efficiently deploy a fleet of contact tracers. These, readers, must be where that bit of confidence and assurance by our officials come from—as of this point, we’re in control, they say. The sustained increase in transmissions is something foreseen, and not as alarming, they add.

But here we go again with OCTA Research sounding the alarm. Cebu’s transmission trend may be attributed to the United Kingdom variant, the B.1.1.7, the think-tank firm warns. As of press time, Cebu has 70 patients being screened for the new variant.

“In high-risk LGUs such as Cebu City, we urge the (LGUs) concerned to consider the stricter implementation of their current community quarantines while continuing to intensify their efforts at testing, tracing and isolation to reverse the increase in transmissions in their communities,” OCTA Research said.

Around 40 percent of Cebu’s Covid-dedicated beds are occupied as of Feb. 7, reports said. If the current transmission rate continues, hospital utilization would breach the critical level of 70 percent in two weeks.

Department of Health (DOH) 7 spokesperson Mary Jean Loreche disagrees though.

“I disagree with the data that is the basis of the OCTA’s prediction that our hospitals in Cebu City will reach 70 percent in two weeks. ... Our daily attack rate for the same period is only five percent. Our case fatality rate for 2020 was at 5.7 percent while that was 1.16 percent in 2021,” Loreche said. OCTA research places Cebu’s attack rate at 10 percent, way above the threshold of seven percent to qualify under “high risk” for an outbreak.

OCTA Research’s warning also pegs itself on the possibility of the UK variant in our midst. Studies have shown the variant has a higher transmissibility rate than the original coronavirus, although there has not been any conclusive study yet on whether or not the highlighted mutations, including those in Africa and Brazil, proved more fatal. Much of the researches has been on the efficacy of the rolled out vaccines against these variants.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the public should not obsess itself with these variants and cower in fear. Viruses, by their very nature, are bent to shape-shift, often into weaker versions.

Nevertheless, the war against the pandemic can be waged on many fronts as it should be, considering how this has caused damage on public health and the economy. It’s a tricky balance, but we’ve been in this chore before; we might just act according to the lessons of the past—science and good dose of humanity.