Cebu City’s COVID-19 spike continues, stricter quarantine an option — OCTA
MANILA, Philippines — Top academicians studying the COVID-19 pandemic trends have warned the government about a continuous increase in Cebu City’s positive cases, which may warrant stricter quarantine protocols anew.
In the latest OCTA Research report released on Tuesday, the group sounded alarm again over Cebu City’s situation, especially since several observers think that higher numbers in the city and the region may be attributed to the coronavirus’ B.1.1.7 variant, which originated from the United Kingdom (UK).
In line with this, OCTA Research said that local government units (LGUs) must consider the placing of stricter quarantine regulations in high-risk areas like Cebu, while implementing aggressive testing and contact tracing.
“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.
“Given the real threat of the ‘game-changing’ UK variant possibly infecting communities in Cebu City, Mandaue and Lapu Lapu, these LGUs must be ready to consider the implementation of strict barangay lockdowns in areas that have already been identified as hotspots to suppress or mitigate viral transmission,” it added.
But aside from Cebu falling under the “high risk” category under Department of Health (DOH) guidelines, another pressing concern and prediction is that hospital utilization rate may shoot to 70 percent in just two weeks — the critical level — if the current trend continues.
As of now, hospital usage in Cebu City is at 40 percent.
“The main concern now in Cebu City, apart from the possibility of the UK B.1.1.7 variant spreading in the area, is the state of the hospital utilization. The above chart shows the hospital bed occupancy in Cebu City hospitals over the past four weeks,” the report explained.
“While the current usage is still manageable, at 40% as of February 7 (from 25% one month ago), the question is, if cases continue to increase at the current transmission rate, when would hospital occupancy could breach the 70% critical level,” it noted.
Recently, DOH debunked claims that the UK variant is responsible for the increase in COVID-19 cases in Cebu. According to DOH Region 7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, no conclusion can be made until the results of samples sent to the genome center in Metro Manila are available.
The UK variant is said to be more contagious than other original variants of the coronavirus disease that originated from China, like the more prevalent B.1.1.6 variant from Hong Kong. Cebu currently has 70 patients screened for the new variant, with only 62 of these qualified for sequencing.
OCTA Research said that the situation in Cebu City is still manageable, but may worsen if left unchecked; as of now, the city averages over 120 new cases per day, which is a 30 percent increase compared to the previous week.
In comparison, Cebu averaged around 167 new cases daily during the height of its lockdown.
“While the Covid-19 situation in Cebu City is still at a manageable level, the data indicates a continuing increase in new Covid-19 cases since the start of the year. This continues to be a serious cause of concern given that the new and more contagious UK B.1.1.7 variant has been identified in the area,” it noted.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.