DOH team sent to Cebu City to study surge in virus cases
CEBU CITY—There seems no end to the phone ringing at Cebu City Ambulance Services (CCAS), and this has been going on for over a month.
CCAS receives 20 to 25 phone calls daily from people whose family members or friends need medical attention due to symptoms associated with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“The number of callers has increased from just 10 to over 20 per day. There were even times when we run out of ambulances,” said the call handler at CCAS, who asked not to be named.
He said it was disheartening to see that some patients had to wait inside the emergency vehicles for hours and even up to a whole day, while others had to be sent home since hospitals were filled beyond capacity.
“This is the situation of the city right now and I have not experienced such since I started my job here five years ago,” he said.
The Department of Health (DOH) has sent in a team of epidemiologists to Cebu City to look into the cause of the local upsurge in COVID-19 cases.
On Thursday, 10 more persons died of the severe respiratory disease in the city—the highest reported single-day count for fatalities since the city went into quarantine on March 28.
Early this week, President Duterte placed Cebu City back on enhanced community quarantine and nearby Talisay City on modified enhanced community quarantine.
According to the city’s health department, three persons died in Barangay Ermita, three in Tejero, two in Quiot, and one each in San Nicolas Proper and T. Padilla.
As of Thursday, Cebu City has recorded a total of 4,137 cases, of which 2,078 remain active. The death toll stood at 58, while the number of recoveries reached 2,001.
There are 2,613 regular beds from five major hospitals in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue, according to the DOH’s Region 7 (Central Visayas) office.
DOH-Region 7 Director Jaime Bernadas said the number of beds had increased from 394 at the end of May to 504 this week. More beds for intensive care were also provided, from 59 at the end of May to 73 this week.
Still, the Cebu Medical Society, a group of more than 3,000 physicians and specialists, said local “hospitals are overwhelmed and undermanned, essential medical equipment are scarce, doctors and nurses are getting sick and burnt out.”
“During these unprecedented times of sickness, trials, economic standstill, mental and emotional stress, we humbly call for unity and cooperation among all stakeholders in public health,” the group said in a statement.
According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the team sent to Cebu City would look into possible factors behind the new infections—including the return of migrant workers, the clustering of cases in jails, and the local government’s expanded testing protocol.
“We want to be sure so that we will have adequate information and would be able to properly address the situation. Let us wait for their analysis and we will give the information to everyone,” Vergeire said in an online briefing on Friday.
The DOH recorded 661 new cases, pushing the national total to 28,459.
Of the new cases, 460 tested positive in the last three days. The National Capital Region (NCR) had the most number of such cases at 277, followed by Central Visayas which had 21.
There were 201 late cases, or those who tested positive from at least four days ago. Central Visayas topped this list with 103, followed by NCR with 40.
The total number of recovered patients rose to 7,378, with the addition of 288.
But 14 more patients succumbed to the disease, bringing the national death toll to 1,130. Twelve of those deaths were recorded between June 4 to June 14.
Recently, the positivity rate—an indicator on the spread of the coronavirus—is 18.2 percent in Central Visayas and 7.1 percent in Metro Manila.
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