Talkback: Narrow down numbers to exactitude

·3 min read

By Atty. Frank Eduard C. Dinsay V

Chief of Staff

Office of the Cebu Governor

IN response to SunStar Cebu’s editorial dated August 26, 2021, it is not “The 123 that died from Aug. 9 to 22, 2021, in the Province died of Covid-19, period.” It is either Covid-19 is the proximate cause of a person’s untimely demise OR it is not, then, period. If it were otherwise, as period-stressed by the editor, how then are we supposed to make sense of a person dying due to drowning or kidney failure but declared Covid-19 positive post-mortem? And yes, this is data from the ground.

From an epidemiological point, disaggregation of Covid-19 deaths is valuable in that: (1) We better understand those who died purely from Covid-19 to check on the category and classification that can guide us in terms of our containment measures; (2) For non-Covid-19-related deaths, most of the comorbidities are lifestyle-related where public health measures can be improved to address them; and (3) The public is given a transparent, precise, and unadulterated data of Covid-19 cases, deaths, and other diseases to enable them to intelligently appreciate the situation.

The Province has been working closely with the national government to mirror their policies while adding positive innovations, when needed, remaining ever compliant with whatever guidelines crafted and cascaded to the LGU level. We are appalled by how the editor extracted only a portion of our statement to embed a distorted and overly stretched interpretation in the public’s imagination when she said “the province had shifted its focus to monitoring outcomes, like how many patients require hospitalization or intensive care and reporting deaths, in the same way seasonal flu outbreaks are monitored.”

For context, and in our letter to the editor last August 25, 2021, we merely echoed our support for alternative methodologies concerning the Covid-19, similar to Singapore’s proposal, when we said: “Instead, the country should abandon the ‘zero transmission’ model and seriously consider the proposal of Singapore towards a new normal where we will no longer report daily Covid-19 cases. The focus would shift to monitoring outcomes, like how many patients require hospitalization or intensive care and reporting deaths, in the same way seasonal flu outbreaks are monitored.”

The editor erroneously includes private hospitals in the mix when she said “the DOH 7 bulletin had reported that Cebu Province’s critical care utilization rate is at 74.4 percent while intensive care unit beds are at 90 percent–it’s 72 percent in level 1 hospitals, and 100 percent in level 2s.

Again, the editor makes reference to the

Department of Health data that is not as refined as the Provincial Government’s. She fails to mention that level 1 hospitals, like some of the Province-run hospitals, are not required to have intensive care unit beds. There are still no hospitals that are accredited as level 2. Luckily, some level 1 province-run hospitals, like Bogo and Balamban, are preparing to transition to level 2 by introducing intensive care unit beds. The available bed capacity allocated for Covid-19 patients in Province-run hospitals is still at 47 percent.

This is how we appreciate numbers–by narrowing it down to exactitude–thereby truthfully calling a square a square vis-à-vis death by Covid-19 or death by some other disease or unrelated cause.

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