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Provinces still struggle with undertesting, low vaccination rates

/ 05:44 AM September 18, 2021

More than a year into the pandemic, several areas in the provinces continue to struggle with undertesting and low vaccination rates, as doctors in Cebu, Iligan City and Cagayan Valley noted high positivity rates and hospital congestion in their localities.

In an online forum of TVUP on Friday, the lone infectious disease specialist in Iligan City had been grappling with the lack of a testing center in their town, a 94.11-percent hospital occupancy rate and a record-breaking death rate of 7.36 percent.

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Dr. Leonell Albert Quitos said Iligan only had six functional mechanical ventilators and 12 high-flow nasal cannula for COVID-19 patients.

Quitos handled the first COVID-19 confirmed case in Mindanao in March 2020.

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Now their six hospitals are catering to more patients than they can handle, with 453 admissions and seven deaths on Sept. 14 alone.

He said the only molecular laboratory in the city, set up in Gregorio T. Lluch Memorial Hospital in December 2020, had yet to operate.

“We’re really a mess here,” Quitos said. “We really need to step up our testing here in our city.”

He also said that Iligan City had vaccinated only around a quarter of its senior citizens, which he said was “very unfortunate and scary.”

In Cagayan Valley region, regional health director Dr. Rio Magpantay said a positivity rate of 32.8 percent had been recorded as of Thursday, as its five provinces continue to be at high risk for COVID-19.

According to the data presented by Magpantay, the third wave of cases in their region started in July 21, or after the detection of the first local case with the Delta variant.

Dr. Bryan Albert Lim of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Hospital in Cebu City said Cebu also struggled with the three surges in infections since last year.

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TAGS: Cagayan Valley, Cebu, COVID-19, Iligan, pandemic, Provinces, testing, Vaccination
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