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Octa sees new virus spike in Cebu City

Research team says hospital bed occupancy projected to reach critical level in two weeks if trend not reversed

A research team tracking the country’s new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases has sounded the alarm on the rapidly increasing number of infections in Cebu City, noting that if the trend continues, the city will be overwhelmed by cases in one to two weeks.

“While hospital bed occupancy is still acceptable, it went up to 46 percent this week, [but] we have seen that it is starting to increase rapidly,” Octa Research fellow Guido David said in a media briefing on Thursday.

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Cebu City has a capacity of 850 beds for COVID-19 cases, but David said the situation would be considered critical when occupancy level reaches 600 beds.

“The threat is there that hospital bed occupancy will reach critical levels,” he said.

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Cebu City, as of Wednesday, had recorded 14,000 COVID-19 cases, of which 2,501 were considered active. It posted 10,788 recoveries and 711 deaths, according to the Department of Health in Central Visayas.

Rapid increase

David said that last December, Cebu hospitals were not yet overwhelmed since cases numbered less than seven per day. In January, however, bed utilization “hovered around 30 percent,” he said.

“In the past week or so, it is starting to increase rapidly. If we do a simple linear extrapolation, it will be above 70 percent very quickly if trends do not reverse,” David said.

If trends continue or are not reversed, he said there could be as many as 300 new cases in Cebu City by the end of this month.

“On the other hand, with stricter measures, it will be more or less stable, though decrease won’t be that quick,” David said.

Money-making scheme

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia directed mayors and health officers in the province’s 44 towns and six component cities to strictly screen people for coronavirus testing as she warned against money-making schemes in COVID-19 isolation facilities.

Garcia said she had received reports that for every patient referred for isolation, the quarantine center will get P22,449.

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“Isolation centers now are very lucrative businesses and some personalities aim to test more people just to fill more patients in the facilities, whether private or government center,” she said.

Garcia, however, did not identify a particular person or group who may have taken advantage of the pandemic.

She said Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) had already included COVID-19 benefit packages for people taken to community isolation units.

The money will not go to the patient but to the facility’s management, Garcia said.

“Why insist that we test those who do not have symptoms? Perhaps they are considering the P22,449 they will get for every patient in isolation facilities,” she said.

“When money comes in, it skews decisions and policies. When it becomes an incentivized issue, the ultimate policy and the ultimate decision gets skewed. And it becomes a battle between what is really deciding for the true good of the people, and then deciding for your own personal gain,” Garcia said.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
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TAGS: Cebu City, COVID-19, OCTA, Research
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