MMDA lauds Pasay City for response to COVID-19 surge
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Benhur Abalos lauded Pasay City for its responses to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hoped other cities in the metropolis could replicate the measures.
In his report to President Duterte on Monday, Abalos said it took Pasay Mayor Emi Calixto Rubiano a month to bring down the number of infections in the city after the South African variant was detected in the city and led to a spike in cases in early March.
On March 2, the Department of Health confirmed that the first South African variant patients in the country were Pasay residents. There were 521 active cases in the city at that time.
Active cases in Pasay quickly rose to 1,024 by March 25 but Rubiano placed two barangays under total lockdown and 136 barangays and areas under granular lockdowns.
Aside from hiring more contact tracers, the city almost tripled its testing capacity, from around 6,000 swab tests in February to 17,000 in March, according to Abalos.
Although the number of infections in the city remained high as of March 29, it went down to 781.
“It is hard to quantify how much was spent, but this shows that there is still a silver living. We can solve this,” said Abalos.
In contrast, Makati City struggled to keep up with the spike in its active cases, which reached 1,072 on Tuesday, bringing its total tally to 14,000 with 480 deaths.
“The local initiatives are not sufficient that’s why we are hoping that the national [government] will help us with the isolation facilities,” Makati City Mayor Abby Binay said in a television interview.
“[That] was the arrangement last year. Unfortunately, even the national isolation and quarantine facilities are already full,” she added
Binay complained that both city and private hospitals in Makati have reached their full capacity and infected residents have to wait in hospital emergency rooms to get a bed.
Residents complained that the Makati City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (Cesu), the office in charge of COVID-19 infections, seemed flustered and could not manage the situation with inadequate and exhausted staff and lack of equipment.
Infected residents who cared to report to the Cesu met unanswered telephone calls and emails. It took three days for contact tracers to telephone the infected and seven days for teams to test the close contacts of confirmed cases.
One exhausted contact tracer who had to deal with an equally frustrated caller pleaded with the caller not to raise her voice on the phone and that she should appreciate the fact that he had not even been paid by the city.
Aside from its management problems, Makati, one of the wealthiest cities in the country, could not even provide sufficient medical transportation for its infected.
However, Abalos said Metro Manila cities would continue to implement interventions during the weeklong enhanced community quarantine, including ramping up their contact tracing and isolation facilities’ capacity, conducting “aggressive community testing,” and implementing granular lockdowns.
As of Monday, Abalos said there were 132 areas under granular lockdowns in seven local governments in Metro Manila.
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