Negros Oriental remains under MECQ as province sees surge in Covid-19 cases

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THE Province of Negros Oriental, which currently has the highest number of active Covid-19 cases in Central Visayas, at 3,800 as of Tuesday, June 29, 2021, remains under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status for the period of July 1-15.

Dr. Eugenia Mercedes Cañal of the Department of Health (DOH) 7’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit identified the two possible reasons behind the increase in Covid-19 cases in Negros Oriental—the Provincial Government’s decision to drop the negative swab test results for inbound travelers and the start of mass testing.

Cañal said Negros Oriental’s Covid-19 cases started to increase when the Province stopped requiring incoming travelers to submit a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result in March. Inbound travelers include locally stranded individuals (Negros Oriental residents stuck in other provinces) and authorized persons outside of residence (Apor).

The other reason, she said, could be the mass testing started by the local government unit (LGU) of Negros Oriental three to four weeks ago.

“Our LGUs tested not only the primary close contacts, but also the secondary contacts of confirmed positive Covid-19 cases,” she said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Biosurveillance

Cañal also said they already conducted biosurveillance in Negros Oriental for suspected Sars-CoV-2 variants. This was also done in other provinces in Central Visayas.

She, however, did not specify the number of samples taken and that tested positive from Negros Oriental. The samples sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) for genomic sequencing are sent in bulk.

From January to June 2021, Cañal said the DOH 7 sent a total of 957 samples from the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor to the PGC.

Of the samples sent, a total of 68 samples tested positive for the P.3 variant, 14 for the UK variant, and 12 for the South African variant B.1.351.

Cañal said as of Tuesday, June 29, the critical care utilization rate (CCUR) of the intensive care unit (ICU) of level 1 hospitals in Negros Oriental is at 68 percent, while its isolation bed utilization rate is at 63 percent.

For level 2 hospitals, the ICU utilization rate is at 50 percent, while the utilization rate for their Covid-19 ward beds is at 54.6 percent.

CCUR refers to the number of regular and ICU beds intended for Covid-19 patients. A CCUR that is below 60 percent is still considered safe.

Cañal said the DOH 7 recently deployed three batches of healthcare workers to Negros Oriental as augmentation as the hospitals in the Province decided to expand their bed allocation for Covid-19 patients.

She said DOH 7 Director Jaime Bernadas already briefed the chiefs of hospitals in Negros Oriental to expand their bed allocation as a response to increasing Covid-19 cases.

Cañal also said that as the hospital referral system is already established, hospitals in Cebu can cater to patients referred by hospitals from other provinces.

“We do not deny any patients for hospitalization. In fact, our private hospitals (in Cebu) are catering to non-Region 7 patients,” she said.

Cañal said some of the patients were from Zamboanga and Caraga, and they were treated in Cebu for Covid-19. (WBS)

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