Malilong: Critical level: Here we go again

·3 min read

So the bed occupancy rate in government hospitals in Cebu City is now at a critical level. Why am I not surprised?

SunStar Cebu whose headline I quoted above could have just said that the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center is almost overwhelmed with patients and it would have conveyed exactly the same message. The fact is that with the Cebu City Medical Center not even 50 percent operational, the VSMMC is the only public hospital of consequence in the city.

There are two reasons why the VSMMC is now nearly overpopulated. One is that it serves not just Cebu City, but also the province as well as the neighboring islands. The other, which is the more immediate, is the surge of Covid-19 cases.

How long will it be before our private hospitals will be similarly challenged? Here’s a clue: According to Bulletin 580 released by the Department of Health Central Visayas, more than half of those tested for the coronavirus in the four biggest hospitals in Cebu were found positive.

Here are the figures: Cebu Doctors, 358 out of 505; UC Med, 89 of 172; Chong Hua, 26 of 37; and Perpetual, 26 out of 60. This high positivity rate is reflected in the sharp rise in our number of active cases since the start of the year. On Jan. 19, according to the same DOH bulletin, Cebu City alone had 4,385 active cases.

What bothers me is the apparent business-as-usual approach taken by our leaders. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, for example, has not reacted as strongly as he demanded of the late Mayor Edgar Labella during the first Covid-19 surge to hit the city. Just stay home was all that he told us this time. What preparations had he taken in case the situation worsens just like in the past when patients were left lying in beds on the streets because the hospitals had run out of rooms?

In fairness to the mayor, he at least decreed that only the vaccinated will be allowed entry to the malls in an effort to persuade the public to have themselves jabbed. No such initiative can be expected from Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia. SunStar reported yesterday that she voiced her disapproval of the policy. Fortunately, her voice does not carry weight in Cebu City, also in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. These cities are outside her jurisdiction.

Garcia has not expressly opposed vaccination but she has not encouraged it either. But she believes in the protection coming from wearing masks and air purifiers.

It is not a coincidence that of all the LGUs in Cebu, the province has the lowest vaccination rate.

Significantly, more people from the province have died from Covid-19 than anywhere else in the island. DOH data shows that while Cebu City had more Covid-19 cases (45,663) than the province’s 39,359, the latter recorded more deaths (2,575 to the city’s 1,534) as of Jan. 19. There is, however, no data that would show how many among the fatalities were unvaccinated.

Most medical experts agree that vaccination offers protection from hospitalization or death from Covid-19. Would that make people avail themselves of this insurance without having to be encouraged or persuaded by their leaders?

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